The Boeing 737 Max could conduct a certification flight in October, which would be a key milestone for the aircraft’s return to service, according to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sources cited by Bloomberg.
According to the Bloomberg report, conducting a certification flight in October could allow the aircraft to return to service early in the fourth quarter. Boeing and the FAA are in the process of testing changes to the aircraft’s flight control software, which are believed to have led to two fatal crashes on Indonesia’s Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines.
Separately, Southwest Airlines has extended its flight cancellations due to the 737 Max grounding through January of next year. Previously, the airline had listed flight cancellations through November 2. The airline says the move amounts to the cancellation of approximately 200 flights per day.
In addition to cancelled flights, the grounding of the aircraft has had other ripple effects throughout the travel industry. Southwest has had to pull out of Newark Airport, instead consolidating its New York City-area operations at LaGuardia, because the grounding has meant that the airline has been unable to grow capacity as originally planned. The end of Newark operations is set for November 3.
The grounding has also caused low-cost carrier Norwegian to cancel its transatlantic service between Ireland and North America, which had operated on six routes out of Dublin, Cork and Shannon in Ireland and New York Stewart International Airport, Providence T. F. Green International Airport and John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport in Toronto. Those cancellations are effective September 15.
Other airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines and Air Canada, have also been forced to cancel a number of flights while the aircraft stays grounded.