The aircraft's return to the skies has been further delayed.
Southwest Parks Grounded Boeing 737 MAX Planes At Remote California Airport
Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Three months after the Boeing 737 MAX was grounded because of two fatal crashes, the aircraft does not look any closer to rejoining the skies. On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it “found a potential risk that Boeing must mitigate.”

Just a few weeks ago, the FAA had announced that the aircraft could be flying again by the end of the month. Now, it’s likely that the plane won’t return to the skies again until the fall.

The aircraft has been grounded since March when an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, killing all 157 people on board. It was the second fatal crash of a 737 Max aircraft in five months, both occurring shortly after takeoff.

Investigators believe that, in both instances, the plane’s automated flight control system was acting from erroneous signals and malfunctioned, sending the aircraft into a nosedive that pilots could not recover from.

In addition, FAA test pilots discovered last week “a separate issue that affected their ability to quickly and easily follow recovery procedures for runaway stabilizer trim and stabilize the aircraft,” according to NPR.

It is currently unclear if the issue can be remedied with a software update or if the plane will need a hardware replacement.

“The safety of our airplanes is Boeing’s highest priority,” Gordon Johndroe, a Boeing spokesperson, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Boeing will not offer the 737 Max for certification by the F.A.A. until we have satisfied all requirements for certification of the Max and its safe return to service.”

The earliest that Boeing will conduct a certification test flight is July 8. The FAA will spend at least two to three weeks reviewing the results of the test before deciding whether or not to lift the grounding, according to The Guardian.

Southwest, American, and United Airlines have taken the plane off their schedules through Labor Day weekend.