When Will Boeing MAX 737 Be Grounded Until? Aircraft Could Return in August

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft might not return to the skies until August at least, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has said. The trade association of the world's airlines hinted it would take approximately another two months until a decision is made. However, it added the final call was out of its hands and rested with regulators instead.

"We do not expect something before 10 to 12 weeks in re-entry into service," IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac told reporters in Seoul, South Korea, as reported by Reuters. "But it is not our hands. That is in the hands of regulators. We hope that they will align their timeframe."

Last week, 737 MAX operators met in Montreal, Canada to discuss the future of the aircraft, which was grounded globally in March. The decision to ground the fleet came after the 737 MAX suffered two deadly accidents in five months, killing a combined 346 people.

On 29 October 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea just 10 minutes after taking off from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. Five months later, on March 10, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed six minutes into a flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya.

Both aircraft were the MAX 8 version, one of the four variants of the 737 MAX that Boeing offered to its clients. Just over a week after the second incident, the U.S. Department of Transportation requested an audit of the regulatory process that saw the aircraft receive its certification in 2017.

The August timeline would be consistent with the decision taken by United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines to remove 737 MAX from their schedules until mid-August. According to Reuters, however, the Federal Aviation Administration expects to clear the jet for return as soon as next month.

Earlier this month, Boeing admitted its 737 MAX aircraft had been experiencing issues before the two fatal crashes. However, the aerospace giant, which had built 393 737 MAX aircraft as of March this year, did not disclose the problem until after the first incident.

Boeing said it had first become aware that the plane's "display system software did not correctly meet the AOA Disagree alert requirements" two years ago.

"In 2017, within several months after beginning 737 MAX deliveries, engineers at Boeing identified that the 737 MAX display system software did not correctly meet the AOA Disagree alert requirements," the company said in a statement.

"The software delivered to Boeing linked the AOA Disagree alert to the AOA indicator, which is an optional feature on the MAX and the NG. Accordingly, the software activated the AOA Disagree alert only if an airline opted for the AOA indicator."

The company indicated that "neither the angle of attack indicator nor the AOA Disagree alert are necessary for the safe operation of the airplane."

Both tools, Boeing explained, "provide supplemental information only, and have never been considered safety features on commercial jet transport airplanes."

Boeing 737 MAX
A group of Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft sit on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on March 13 in Phoenix, Arizona. The U.S. has followed countries around the world and has grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft following the crash of an Ethiopia Airlines 737 Max 8. Ralph Freso/Getty Images
When Will Boeing MAX 737 Be Grounded Until? Aircraft Could Return in August | U.S.