Boeing has lowered its resistance to pilot simulator training by trying to return its 737 MAX fleet to the skies – almost ten months after all planes were grounded.
The company, hit by the crisis, confirmed on Tuesday that it should make a recommendation to regulators as they determine whether aircraft, hailed for their fuel efficiency, are safe to fly again after two fatal accidents.
All versions of the 737 MAX were grounded worldwide in March last year – days after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane outside Addis Ababa and five months after a Lion Air flight suffered a similar fate near Indonesia.
A total of 346 people died.
The wreckage of the Boeing-made jet that crashed into a field near Addis Ababa airport
The modifications focused mainly on software that controls an anti-stall device called the Maneuvering Characteristics Enhancement System (MCAS).
Officials from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) are due to meet this week with Boeing for a progress report on the required documentation as part of an audit process.
The deadline for obtaining new safety certificates, allowing the aircraft to fly again and for Boeing to initiate late deliveries at airlines, has charged the airline its financial price.
It is reassigning 3,000 employees to work on other projects as it prepares to suspend MAX production for an unspecified time.
It was announced just days before Christmas that CEO Dennis Muilenburg received his marching orders amid criticism of the company's handling of the 737 MAX's development and the aftermath of the crashes.
Dennis Muilenburg was Boeing's CEO in 2015
Several airlines, including American Airlines and Turkish Airlines, have secured confidential compensation payments that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars, as airlines require grounded aircraft repair, lost deliveries and reduced growth ambitions.
Ryanair is among other airlines that are pushing Boeing for compensation.
The Reuters news agency said it could be several months before regulators were in a position to release planes for flight again.
Updated training is a crucial part of the process.
Boeing had previously insisted that pilots would only need computer training on the new flight control software.
He admitted mistakes in the development of the original system – with MCAS guilty of providing pilots with conflicting information, both in testing and in flight.
The company stated of its decision to support full simulator training in updated software: "This recommendation takes into account our unwavering commitment to safe return of service as well as changes to the plane and test results.
"The final determination will be set by regulators," he said.
The recommendation, if agreed, could take longer for airlines to resume 737 MAX flights – costing Boeing and potentially its customers even more money.
There is market speculation that Boeing could be forced to cut its research and development spending and even turn around with investors in an attempt to obstruct cash flow.
It was revealed last month that the MAX crisis caused so much damage that fierce European rival Airbus outperformed Boeing as the world's largest producer of commercial aircraft in 2019 for the first time in eight years.