End of Boeing 737 MAX grounding up to individual countries: US FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration said it still has no timeframe to lift the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, shown here in August in Seattle (AFP Photo/David Ryder)

New York (AFP) - The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that it still has no timeframe to lift the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, and that individual countries will decide when the plane can fly again.

"Our first priority is safety, and we have set no timeframe for when the work will be completed. Each government will make its own decision to return the aircraft to service, based on a thorough safety assessment," the FAA said in a statement.

The statement followed a meeting of international regulators in Canada more than six months after the top-selling Boeing plane was grounded following the second of two deadly crashes that together claimed 346 lives.

Boeing has said that it expects to receive regulatory approval early in the fourth quarter for the plane to resume service.

In a September 11 appearance at a financial conference, Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg held to that timeframe and said that a "phased ungrounding" of the jets was one possible outcome.

The US regulator has been seen as likely to be the first body to act, but FAA officials have said repeatedly that they would prefer other agencies to follow suit quickly.

However, other leading regulators such as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency have expressed concerns about the plane and also signaled they support simulator training requirements for pilots -- something the FAA has not viewed as necessary.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told his counterparts that he planned to personally fly the 737 MAX himself before approving the plane to resume flights.

"As you make your own decisions about returning the MAX to service, we will continue to make available to you all that we have learned, all that we have done, and all of our assistance," Dickson told the regulators in remarks released by the FAA.