The recertification process for Boeing’s troubled 737 Max jets will extend into next year, the head of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday said.
“We have a number of milestones yet to complete,” Steve Dickson, Administrator of the FAA, told the House transportation committee.
Dickson said while the recertification process has advanced, it is only at the stage of looking at revised flight control software that is believed to have contributed to the two accidents that preceded the grounding.
Dickson said the process was not beholden to any timeline and FAA employees have been told to take whatever time is needed to do their work.
Dickson was quoted by CNBC before he testified as saying there are 10 to 11 targets left to meet, among them pilot retraining.
The aircraft was grounded in March after accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia resulting in the deaths of 346 people.
Dickson, a former U.S. military and commercial airline pilot, told the committee the FAA “fully controls” the approval process for the flight control systems and is not delegating anything to Boeing.
He also said he will fly the jet himself before he signs off on it.
The FAA’s comments on the recertification process contradict Boeing’s own guidance on when regulators would lift the grounding order.
The company said in November deliveries could resume this month.
Uncertainty about when the plane will fly again has been a challenge for a number of airlines.
American Airlines said in November that it didn’t expect the Jets to be back in service before early March.