MOSES LAKE, WA – OCTOBER 23: Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, along with one Boeing 787 at top, are parked at Grant County International Airport October 23, 2019 in Moses Lake, Washington. Boeing reported that its profits were down by more than half in the latest quarter. The company has finished updates and testing on the 737 MAX and plans to have the planes flying by the end of the year. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

New York (CNN)Boeing plans to restart the production of the troubled 737 Max months before regulators approve the plane to fly again, CEO Dave Calhoun said Wednesday.

Calhoun, holding his first press conference since taking the top job at Boeing last week, said it is important that Boeing gets the assembly line in Renton, Washington, going again sooner rather than later.

Boeing continued to build the plane throughout 2019, even after the grounding of the jet in March following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. Work on the line was temporarily halted within the last week.

Calhoun did not give a specific target date to restart work, though in answer to a question he suggested it could be in two to three months from now. He said production would begin at a very slow rate at first.

On Tuesday, the company said it does not expect regulatory approval for the plane to fly until the middle of this year.

Boeing had hoped to have the plane approved to fly again by the end of 2019, but FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson announced on Dec. 11 that would not happen until some time this year.

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