In an announcement Monday morning, Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) said that the company could begin delivering its backlog of 737 Max passenger jets and that the plane may be certified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to begin flying again in January.
The company posted a list of five “key milestones” that it must achieve in order to return to service. The first, an FAA session to evaluate the safety of the overall software system, was completed last week, Boeing said.
FAA certification of the Max flight control software updates remains targeted for this quarter. If that happens, deliveries could begin in December, after the agency issues an Airworthiness Directive lifting the grounding order it imposed in March.
Boeing also said, “In parallel, we are working towards final validation of the updated training requirements, which must occur before the MAX returns to commercial service, and which we now expect to begin in January.”
The four remaining milestones are:
- FAA Line Pilots Crew Workload Evaluation: A separate, multi-day simulator session with airline pilots to assess human factors and crew workload under various test conditions.
- FAA Certification Flight Test: FAA pilots will conduct a certification flight(s) of the final updated software.
- Boeing Final Submittal to the FAA: After completion of the FAA certification flight, Boeing will submit the final certification deliverables and artifacts to the FAA to support software certification.
- Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB) Simulator Training Evaluation: The Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB), a multi-regulatory body, conducts a multi-day simulator session with global regulatory pilots to validate training requirements. Following the simulator session, the Flight Standardization Board will release a report for a public comment period, followed by final approval of the training.
Boeing also noted:
The FAA and other regulatory authorities will ultimately determine return to service in each relevant jurisdiction. This may include a phased approach and timing may vary by jurisdiction.
China, the European Union and Canada are among the many civil jurisdictions to have indicated that they will be conducting their own evaluations of the 737 Max’s fitness to return to service. This deadly story is not behind Boeing yet.
The company’s share price has risen more than 4% since the announcement, to $366.34 in a 52-week range of $292.47 to $446.01. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock is $379.00.