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Boeing targets mid-2020 for returning 737 MAX to service

A 737 MAX production line in Renton. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

It may ultimately be up to the Federal Aviation Administration, but Boeing announced Tuesday that it hopes to have the 737 MAX return to service by “mid-2020.”

FAA: 737 MAX still not close to flying again

“Returning the MAX safely to service is our number one priority, and we are confident that will happen,” the company said in a news release. “We acknowledge and regret the continued difficulties that the grounding of the 737 MAX has presented to our customers, our regulators, our suppliers, and the flying public.”

The 737 MAX was grounded in March after two crashes that killed 346 people. The first crash included a Lion Air Max that crashed Oct. 29, 2018. The second was six months later with an Ethiopian Airlines Max on March 10, 2018.

Boeing plans to pause production on the plane entirely in January, as the company continues to await approval from the FAA to reenter the MAX into circulation.

In December, FAA head Stephen Dickson told CNBC that there are 10 to 11 “milestones” to reach before the agency will allow the planes to fly again.

“When the 737 MAX is returned to service, it will be because the safety issues have been addressed, and pilots have received all the training they need to safety operate the aircraft — this process is not guided by a calendar or schedule,” Dickson said in testimony presented to Congress.

Boeing eyes $10 billion loan to weather 737 MAX crisis

That was before Boeing discovered a new software problem in the plane involving monitors meant to verify key systems are functioning. Getting that issue resolved has the potential to cause further delays.

The company cautioned Tuesday against expectations from “forward-looking statements” that target a solid date for returning the 737 MAX to service.

“These statements are not guarantees and are subject to risks, uncertainties, and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict,” it noted.

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