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U.S. regulator sees approval of Boeing 737 MAX to fly as soon as late June: sources

Saturday 25/May/2019 - 10:44 AM
Sada El Balad
Edited by: Ahmad El-Assasy
(Reuters) - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expects to approve Boeing Co’s 737 MAX jet to return to service as soon as late June، representatives of the U.S. air regulator informed members of the United Nations’ aviation agency in a private briefing on Thursday، sources told Reuters.

The target، if achieved، means U.S. airlines would likely not have to greatly extend costly cancellations of 737 MAX jets they have already put in place for the peak summer flying season، but the FAA representatives warned that there was no firm timetable to get the planes back in the air.

American Airlines Group Inc، Southwest Airlines Co and United Airlines suspended 737 MAX flights into July and August after the FAA grounded Boeing’s best-selling jet in March following two crashes in the space of five months that together killed 346 people.

FAA and Boeing officials privately briefed members of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) governing council in Montreal on the 737 MAX on Thursday، the same day that the FAA’s acting administrator Dan Elwell met with international air regulators for eight hours in Fort Worth، Texas.

Laying out a potential schedule for getting the 737 MAX back in the air in the United States goes further than the FAA’s public statements so far.

Elwell declined to answer questions about the private ICAO briefing. “The last thing I want is to put a date out there and then to have anybody، either the FAA، or you or the public drive to the date instead of the end result or the process،” he told Reuters at a briefing with reporters after the Fort Worth meeting، which he called “constructive.”

The path to getting the 737 MAX back in the air outside the United States remains even more uncertain. Canada and Europe said on Wednesday they would bring back the grounded aircraft on their own terms، not the FAA’s.

Chinese carriers، several of which this week made formal requests to Boeing for compensation، stand to lose 4 billion yuan ($579.41 million) based on the grounding lasting until the end of June، the China Air Transport Association said on Friday.

China’s aviation regulator، which oversees the largest fleet of 737 MAX jets globally and was the first regulator to ground the aircraft after a crash in Ethiopia in March، did not have immediate comment about the Fort Worth meeting.

Shares of Boeing، the world’s largest plane maker، pared earlier losses on Thursday to close down 0.6% at $350.55. The stock has fallen about 17 percent since the second crash، of an Ethiopian Airlines jet in March، wiping about $40 billion off its market value.

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