Boeing: 737 MAX likely to stay grounded through mid 2020

CHICAGO (KWCH and AP) The Boeing Company says it does not expect the 737 MAX to be back up in the air until the middle of this year.

The company noted in a statement on Tuesday that "the FAA and other global regulators will determine when the 737 MAX returns to service."

But the company said it did not expect the plane to be ungrounded until this summer. The plane was grounded last March after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people. Boeing is updating software, computers and pilot training for the plane.

People familiar with the matter say Boeing's timetable is based on how much work still needs to be done to get the approval. It's several months longer than Boeing predicted late last year. And it means airlines that own Max jets will have to start another peak summer season without them.

"This updated estimate is informed by our experience to date with the certification process," a statement from Boeing says. "It is subject to our ongoing attempts to address known schedule risks and further developments that may arise in connection with the certification process. It also accounts for the rigorous scrutiny that regulatory authorities are rightly applying at every step of their review of the 737 MAX's flight control system and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board process which determines pilot training requirements."

Boeing says returning the MAX safely to service remains it's No. 1 priority.

"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 company says. "We will provide additional information about our efforts to safely return the 737 MAX to service in connection with our quarterly financial disclosures next week."