American Airlines on Wednesday pushed back its scheduled return to service of the Boeing 737 MAX by another six weeks.
“American Airlines anticipates that the impending software updates to the Boeing 737 Max will lead to re-certification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020,” the airline says.
The airline and others have repeatedly pushed back the date on which they expect the Max will return, each time cancelling more flights in the process.
“Additional refinements to our schedule may occur through Feb. 12,” American said. “Affected customers will be contacted directly.”
The move comes amid continued uncertainty about how and when the 737 Max will return to the skies.
American says that on 16 January it “expects to slowly phase in the Max for commercial service and will increase flying on the aircraft throughout the month and into February”.
It now looks like the earliest the MAX could realistically return to passenger service is as far as December. However, airlines with more airplanes, American has 24 MAXs currently grounded, and a large number of pilots yet to be trained will take more time to put the plane back in their schedules.
Signals have suggested the FAA may indeed clear the aircraft this year, as Boeing has repeatedly insisted.
But other regions’ regulators, especially those in Europe, have expressed hesitation to rubber-stamp the FAA’s approval, suggested various agencies may clear the aircraft on different timetables.