Reports indicate that the grounded Boeing 737 Max might not fly again until next year.
Citing a number of government and aviation industry sources, The Wall Street Journal reports that the plane is unlikely to fly again until 2020 due to the time needed to fix the flight control software and carry out other tasks.
The move comes shortly after United Airlines announced plans to cancel more than 8,000 flights through November 3, a month longer than had been previously planned. Southwest Airlines has said it does not expect the plane to return before October 1.
Over the weekend, American Airlines extended its own 737 Max cancellations through November 2. In its statement announcing that decision, the airline said that it “remains confident” the aircraft will be recertified this year.
Both the American Airlines statement and the sources cited by the Wall Street Journal may be true – even if the aircraft is recertified later this year, pilots will still need to be retrained on the aircraft due to the updates being made, a process that will take at least one month. That means that if the aircraft is recertified late enough in the year, the retraining process could push its official return to the skies into 2020.
Late last month reports had surfaced that a newly discovered glitch in the airplane’s software was delaying its return to service. At the time, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that it is “following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline,” for the aircraft’s recertification.