Boeing 737 Max return not expected until August, IATA says

Key Points
  • IATA doesnt see the 737 Max returning to the skies until August at least.
  • The plane has been involved in two fatal crashes, killing 346 people.
  • Boeing is under huge pressure to satisfy regulators and airlines that the 737 Max is now safe
Crewman tow in a Boeing Max 737 jet after landing at King County International Airport in Seattle, Washington, on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016.
Mike Kane | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The grounded Boeing 737 Max fleet isn't expected to return to the skies for at least another 10 weeks, according to the airline industry's main trade body.

Boeing is under huge pressure to satisfy regulators and airlines that the 737 Max plane is safe after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, which killed all 157 people on board.

Investigators have said there are "clear similarities" between that flight and another Max crash in Indonesia in October that killed all 189 on board.

Alexandre de Juniac, the director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said at an event in South Korea Wednesday that the 737 Max wouldn't fly until August at the earliest, according to several media reports.

"We do not expect something before 10 to 12 weeks in re-entry into service," he said, before adding: "But it is not our hands. That is in the hands of regulators."

IATA is planning a summit before August involving Boeing, regulators and airlines to discuss what must happen to get the plane back into service.

Crash investigators are working on a theory that the jet's flight control system, which automatically pushes the plane's nose down to prevent a stall, was responsible for the fatalities in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

On May 16, Boeing said it had completed a software update for its 737 Max planes and was working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to get the plane back in the air.

For its part, the FAA has so far refused to commit to any date for the Max jet to return to service.

U.S. carriers Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines have all removed the Max from their summer flight schedules.

Boeing Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg is set to speak at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York City on Wednesday.

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