The move leaves United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) as the only US operator that has the plane scheduled to return this year, as regulators continue to extensively review proposed software changes.
American, the largest US airline, had previously canceled about 140 flights a day through December, but it expects to gradually resume MAX flights starting January 16.
American said it believes the software updates will lead to the Federal Aviation Administration’s “recertification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020.”
The FAA said Wednesday that it is “is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service. The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when it is deemed safe to do so.”
The fast-selling 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since mid-March while the Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) updates flight control software at the center of two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which killed a total of 346 people within a span of five months.
An ongoing regulatory safety review means a key 737 MAX certification test flight is unlikely before November, Reuters reported. Boeing has repeatedly said it hopes to resume flights in the fourth quarter, starting from October 1.
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Reuters last month that the agency would need about a month following the yet-to-be scheduled certification test flight before the planes could return to service.
Boeing plans to revise the 737 MAX software to take input from both of its angle-of-attack sensors in the anti-stall system linked to the two deadly crashes and has added additional safeguards. Boeing is also addressing a flaw discovered in the software architecture of the 737 MAX flight-control system that involves using and receiving input from the plane’s two flight control computers rather than one.
Boeing’s stock traded up 0.51% to $376.01 in pre-marketing trading.
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