The Boeing (BA) 737 MAX flight ban is set to lift in January, as US and European regulators complete their extended safety review.
The MAX has been grounded globally since March 2019, following two fatal crashes that took the lives of 346 people.
The European Union Safety Agency’s (EASA) top regulator said the aircraft is safe to fly, following changes to the design of the jet.
Executive Director Patrick Ky told the Paris Air Forum, an online aviation conference hosted by La Tribune: “We wanted to carry out a totally independent analysis of the safety of this aircraft, so we performed our own checks and flight tests.”
He said the regulator had started to put in place the measures that would mean a return to the skies “some time in January.”
This is a slight timeline shift to what the regulator said might happen mid-October. Officials had signalled that the grounded plane could be allowed to fly before the end of the year.
After a few setbacks, Ky said that an overhaul of a faulty flight control system on the Max “had met the watchdog’s requirements.”
In September, a review kicked off in London which aimed to return the beleaguered aircraft to the skies.
A multi-agency effort saw civil aviation authorities and airline flight crews from the US, EU, Canada and Brazil “review Boeing’s proposed training” for 737 Max flight crews.
Following the grounding of the jetliner, the company swung to a $636m (£498m) annual loss in January 2020 — its first loss in more than 20 years — Boeing put the total costs of the grounding at $19bn.
Boeing suspended new deliveries of the plane, following the biggest crisis in its 103-history. The US manufacturing giant also set aside a further $9.2bn to cover the costs of airlines that cancelled 737 Max flights and towards higher higher costs related to compensation.
The crisis, led to the firing of chief executive Dennis Muilenburg, caused layoffs at suppliers and put Boeing behind rival Aribus (AIR.PA) in sales and deliveries of new jetliners.
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