By Tracy Rucinski and David Shepardson
CHICAGO / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – United Airlines Holdings Inc. On Friday, the cancellation of Boeing 737 MAX flights was extended until September 4th. According to Reuters, the time for an important certification flight may not be set until April.
The new timeline strongly suggests that none of the jets will fly for a second U.S. summer, an issue that weighed on US 737 MAX operators’ profits during last year’s peak travel season in favor of airlines like Delta Air Lines they don’t have the MAX in their fleets.
Boeing Co’s 737 MAX was discontinued worldwide in March last year after two accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people within five months.
The U.S. aircraft manufacturer has spent months updating software that is believed to have played a role in both crashes. However, new problems have emerged that hamper regulatory efforts to re-approve the aircraft.
A certification flight earlier this month could take longer after repeated delays as Boeing tries to solve the new problems.
US airlines operating the 737 MAX planned to get the aircraft back on the air in early June, when regulators approved the aircraft in the first quarter, but this is now becoming increasingly unlikely.
Southwest Airlines Co , the world’s largest operator of the 737 MAX, extended flight cancellations due to the extended landing until August 10th.
A key problem yet to be resolved is whether Boeing needs to disconnect two bundles of cables that may be too close together, which can lead to a short circuit and crash if the pilots do not respond appropriately. Boeing said on Friday it was still in talks with the Federal Aviation Administration about the problem.
(Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Steve Orlofsky)