Boeing’s 737 MAX jets are one step closer to returning to service.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued its first airworthiness certificate for one of the jets on Monday since the planes were grounded in 2019 following a pair of crashes in less than five months that resulted in a combined 346 deaths, an FAA spokesperson told Fox News.
The FAA’s airworthiness certificate authorizes the aircraft to fly. Each new 737 MAX built since the grounding order will need one. There were nearly 400 737 MAX jets in service at the time of their grounding and Boeing has built about 450 more that are waiting to be delivered to airlines.
Boeing expects to deliver about half of the aircraft currently in storage by the end of next year and most of the rest in the year after, according to a company spokesperson.
The FAA expects “to have a sufficient number of inspectors on hand to meet Boeing’s planned delivery schedule for the foreseeable future,” an agency spokesman said.
Each U.S. airline will also need the FAA to approve its 737 MAX pilot training program in order to return the jets to service. Jets that have been parked since the grounding order will also need to meet maintenance requirements before they can fly again.
United Airlines expects to return its MAX jets to service sometime in the first quarter of 2021, initially flying out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and Denver International Airport. American Airlines intends to start its 737 MAX back with flights between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Miami International Airport beginning Dec. 29, Fox Business previously reported.
This first new certification came after the agency announced that Administrator Steve Dickson had signed an order on Nov. 18 allowing the 737 MAX to return to commercial service.
The agency said it had put Boeing’s troubled jets through a “comprehensive and methodical safety review process” over the course of 20 months.
This article originally appeared on Fox News