The EU Aviation Safety Agency expects to authorize the return to service of Boeing Co.'s 737 MAX by January 2020 at the earliest if tests by European pilots in December are successful, the agency's Executive Director Patrick Ky told Reuters.
Boeing had expected the troubled model to start flying again by the end of 2019. The EASA's process might get delayed by "a couple of weeks" compared to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's timeline, Ky reportedly said, adding that the two agencies are coordinating in full measure.
The 737 MAX jets were grounded globally in March following two fatal crashes that have been blamed on the aircraft's anti-stall system.
Ky did not rule out the possibility of a transitional period that included a simplified operational procedure with a reduced workload for pilots in order to return 737 MAX jets to the skies, though he was uncertain about following the same procedure for a longer period.
The FAA recently said Boeing had alerted authorities about "instant messages" between two of its employees that depict "certain communications" with the regulator in 2016 when the 737 MAX was being certified.