• Review process of proposed safety measures on 737 Max will be completed soon: FAA chief
  • Will lift ban only after safety experts are satisfied: Steve Dickson
  • Plane could be cleared to fly again as early as Nov. 18  - Reuters 

Boeing’s infamous Max 737 may take to the skies again soon as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is close to finishing its certification of the aircraft, Reuters reported, quoting sources familiar with the matter.

The FAA is in the final stages of reviewing proposed changes to the aircraft and the process can be completed in the “coming days” once all safety concerns on the aircraft have been addressed, FAA chief Steve Dickson told Reuters in a statement.

The report quoted three unnamed sources "briefed on the matter" as saying that the ungrounding could happen as early as Nov. 18. Boeing declined to comment, Reuters said.

The 737 Max, Boeing's best selling plane before the grounding, was banned from flying by regulators around the world in March last year after two crashes that together killed 346 people. This ungrounding will help Boeing recover from the crisis, which had cost the company's then CEO Dennis Muilenburg his job, hemorrhaged cash, and triggered job losses at the company and its many suppliers. Airlines, which were hit by the drop in air travel following the pandemic lockdowns, canceled several orders for the jet.

In the third quarter ended Sept. 30, Boeing reported a loss of $449 million, compared with a profit of $1.2 billion in the year-ago period, as revenues fell 29.2% to $14.1 billion.

“As I have said many times before, the agency will take the time that it needs to thoroughly review the remaining work. Even though we are near the finish line, I will lift the grounding order only after our safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards,” Dickson said.

The FAA had come under fire following the crashes for weak oversight in the certification of the plane.

When the ban is lifted, all airlines using Boeing 737 Max will be required to complete pilot and software training, which is expected to take a month.

Airlines are approaching the prospective ungrounding of the jet differently. Southwest Airlines, which is the biggest flyer of Boeing Max 737, said it has no plans to schedule flights on the aircraft until mid-2021.

It was reported last month that American Airlines and Air Canada are the only carriers that had scheduled Boeing 737 Max flights in December and January, and the former will also conduct tours and Q&A sessions to reassure customers of their safety on board the aircraft.

Regulators in other countries will work with the FAA to validate the agency's certification decision for the Max. Europe’s chief aviation safety regulator may give the green light for the Max to fly by the end of the year, the report said. But China’s aviation regulator has not given a timeline as to when it plans to lift its ban on the 737 Max.

Fewer canceled orders at planemaker Boeing helped push US durable goods up overall in September
Fewer canceled orders at planemaker Boeing helped push US durable goods up overall in September AFP / Jim WATSON