Federal Aviation Administrator Steve Dickson has called senior U.S. airline officials Friday and told them that the agency could approve the grounded Boeing 737 MAX’s return to service before mid-year, people briefed on the calls said Friday, Trend reports citing Reuters.
Dickson’s calls come days after Boeing said it was pushing back its timeline for approval of the plane’s return and “currently estimating that the ungrounding of the 737 MAX will begin during mid-2020.”
A person briefed on one of Dickson’s calls with the airlines said he told officials the Boeing mid-year timeline is “very conservative.”
Boeing’s best-selling plane has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes killed 346 people.
The agency confirmed in a statement Friday that Dickson is making calls “to reiterate that the FAA has set no time frame for completion of certification work on the aircraft.” The agency added it is “pleased with Boeing’s progress in recent weeks toward achieving key milestones.”
FAA approval before mid-year could only happen if Boeing continues to make complete and thorough submissions, the official said, and emphasized that unforeseen issues could always potentially delay approval.
American Airlines Group Inc, United Airlines Holdings Inc and Southwest Airlines Co have all pushed back the resumption of MAX flights until early June. This week, United told investors it does not expect to fly the Boeing 737 MAX this summer.