The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is targeting January 2021 for the recertification of B737 MAX aircraft, the agency's head Patrick Ky told La Tribune during the Paris Air Forum.

"All these studies [from the United States] show us that the plane can return to service. It’s likely that, in our case, we’ll adopt the decisions that will allow us to put it back in service in the course of January," he said.

A draft decision ungrounding the type in EASA's jurisdiction is expected by the end of November. It will be followed by a 30-day comment period before entering into force. The installation of mandated modifications and retraining could take a further few weeks. Consequently, the B737 MAX could start flying again in Europe in the late first quarter of 2021.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US recertified the B737 MAX in mid-November, mandating certain software and hardware updates as well as the retraining of pilots. American Airlines (AA, Dallas/Fort Worth) is on track to become the first airline to restart the type's operations, currently scheduled for December 29, 2020.

The FAA's airworthiness directive applies only to carriers operating in the US and has no direct relevance for other jurisdictions. EASA signalled earlier that while it would conduct an independent assessment of Boeing's changes, it was generally satisfied with the process so far.