Crisis deepens as Boeing leaves it to regulators to decide on time of 737 Max's return to service

Southwest Boeing 737 Max
Southwest Boeing 737 Max YouTube grab/ CBS

Returning the grounded Boeing 737 Max may not be that easy for Boeing. The airplane maker on Saturday said that the company will leave it to the US Federal Aviation Administration to decide the timing of the return of Boeing 737 Max to service.

Boeing's announcement comes following reports that the US Federal Aviation Administration head Steve Dickson has asked his team to "take whatever time required" to review Boeing's 737 Max.

This follows just days after Boeing earlier this week said that it is expecting a clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration as early as mid December and is the grounded Boeing 737 Max could return to service by January. This sent the company's stock soaring.

However, the airplane maker said that it might not get approval for changes to pilot training before January. The entire process of approval now may not happen that soon as was being expected by Boeing.

"The FAA has said they are not going to put a time frame on it and we are going to track behind them on this," said Stan Deal, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

Boeing has been mired in controversy quite some time now. It's Boeing 737 Max has been grounded since March, following two fatal accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.

U.S. authorities had earlier said that Boeing's timetable is a bit too aggressive and was not cleared by regulators in advance. However, Dickson on Friday had said that the team reviewing Boeing 737 Max will take a decision on its own timetable and won't do anything in haste.

In fact, Dickson has been quite strict in the review process. In a video message posted on YouTube, Dickson said, "I am not going to sign off on this aircraft until I fly it myself and I am satisfied that I would put my own family on it without a second thought."

Boeing's mired in controversy

Boeing 737
A Boeing 737 Norwegian Pixabay/Tommy Olsson

To get a certification test flight, Boeing first needs to complete an audit of its software documentation. The company said that it is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration and other authorities.

However, even when 737 Max returns, it won't be that easy for Boeing given that many are wary of flying the aircraft. According to Association of Professional Flight Attendants president Lori Bassani, many American Airlines flight attendants have said that they are worried of getting on a Boeing 737 Max after the plane is certified to fly again.

Boeing 737 Max's ground has also been taking a toll on airline companies, which have been cancelling its 737 Max daily flights. Southwest Airlines and American Airlines last week said that they have cancelled all its 737 Max flights till early March.

This has been eating into the profits of the airline companies, with many initiating conversation with Boeing for compensation. Southwest and American Airlines said that their losses run into more than $1 billion now owing to the growing of the 737 Max.

Join the Discussion