Seattle, Washington - The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is likely to begin test flights with the Boeing 737 MAX in October to determine if the aircraft will be allowed to fly again.
Although the regulator said that it had not yet specified a firm schedule for the test flights, they are likely to occur before year-end, Bloomberg news agency reports.
The timing would be in line with Boeing's estimate that the aircraft could be back in service in the fourth quarter.
On Aug. 22, the FAA announced that it invited a group of airline pilots to participate in the simulator tests as part of the process to recertify the aircraft before it is allowed to fly again.
Three U.S. airlines (Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines) that currently have the 737 MAX jets in their fleets gave the names of some pilots to the FAA, Reuters news agency reports.
The US Federal Aviation Administration did not specify the required flight hours, but asks the candidates to have experience at the controls of the 737 MAX jets.
According to the sources who are close to the matter, the FAA's Flight Standardization Board (FSB), which sets the requirements for pilot training in the US, is preparing to make new recommendations in early September for exactly what is needed before the aircraft returns to service, the Seattle Times reports.
Boeing also plans to produce 52 MAX jets per month again from February. The manufacturer had reduced the production of the aircraft to 42 aircraft per month and halted deliveries after its MAX series jets were globally grounded.
If everything goes as planned, Boeing plans to increase its 737 MAX production to 57 aircraft per month from June next year.
Boeing's 737 MAX series jets have been grounded worldwide since Mid-March after two crashes within less than six months in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.
Boeing has been fixing the stall-prevention system (MCAS) of the aircraft, which was concluded to be the cause of both crashes.
The FAA and other international civil aviation regulators must approve the updated system before the 737 MAXs return to commercial service.
The 737 MAX operators across the world had to cancel thousands of 737 MAX flights scheduled for a time of strong domestic and international air travel demand.