Boeing 737 MAX set for US approval tomorrow

The embattled jet moves closer to returning to the skies with green light imminent 

Following more than 20 months on the ground, the Boeing 737 MAX is expected to return to the skies this week.  

Boeing is reportedly set to win US approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resume flights of its troubled jet, with reports that the manufacturer will receive confirmation as early as tomorrow (November 18). 

Boeing 737
The 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since March 13, 2019. All images Boeing

The decision comes after other global aviation regulators move closer to allowing the 737 Max to return to service. In August, Transport Canada became the first foreign regulator to conclude validation testing on the type.  

The following month, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) completed its series of test flights for the jet. Approval from the European regulator is expected to follow shortly after the American airframer receives the green light. 

The 737 MAX 7 is the shortened derivative of the next-generation narrowbody.

Speaking in September, Patrick Ky, the executive director of EASA, said: “For the first time in a year-and-a-half I can say there’s an end in sight to work on the MAX.” 

The organisation expects to lift the grounding “not long” after the FAA, but individual countries’ operational clearances could take longer. “We are looking at November,” he added. 

MAX name
It's thought the 'MAX' branding will be phased out and replaced by the type's offical -7,-8, -9 and -10 designator. 

At the beginning of October, the FAA’s administrator, Steve Dickson, put the narrowbody through its paces by completing a test flight of the type, fulfilling a promise to personally pilot the jet before the administration approves its return to the skies. 

Bringing the 737 MAX back into service will be a mammoth task that will not happen overnight. Operators that have already taken delivery of jets will be required to complete maintenance and modification works while updated crew training will need to be completed. 

The 737 MAX was the fastest selling commerical aircraft in the company's history.

As for the undelivered airframes – of which there are more than 400 – Boeing lost its authority to self-issue airworthiness and export certificates when the FAA revoked its permission in November last year.  

Instead, the regulator plans to conduct in-person individual inspections on all the airframes, which could take more than a year to complete.