European regulators expect to clear Boeing's (NYSE:BA) grounded 737 MAX to return to service in January at the earliest, the head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency tells Reuters.
EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky declines to estimate when U.S. regulators would make their own decision to lift the flight ban but says any gap between the agencies would be a matter of weeks rather than months.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has primary responsibility for lifting the ban and is expected to be followed by other regulators including the EASA, but news reports have speculated that other agencies could be slow to act.
"As far as we know today, we have planned for our flight tests to take place in mid-December which means decisions on a return to service for January, on our side," Ky says.
"We may end up with a couple of weeks of time difference but we are not talking about six months," according to Ky. "We are talking about a delay which, if it happens, will be due mostly to process or administrative technicalities.