The FAA has granted type inspection authorization to the Boeing 737-10, the largest MAX variant, allowing certification flights to follow.
It has been a long time coming. Boeing’s 737-10 flew for the first time in June 2021. According to Boeing, the aircraft that the manufacturer has used in testing have so far made around 400 flights, almost reaching 1,000 flight hours.
But for its certification to go ahead, the 737-10 must fly with FAA pilots. This is what the type inspection authorization is making possible. The start of these flights is a big milestone for the program, which will be the last 737 variant to get certified.
Initially, many analysts saw the 737-10 as an aircraft primarily for low-cost carriers, who will appreciate its very low per-seat economics. Nonetheless, many legacy carriers have ordered the aircraft, including Delta and United Airlines.
The aircraft can seat up to 230 passengers in an all-economy configuration. By comparison, the Airbus A321neo can seat up to 240 people, and some low-cost carriers are indeed using it that way. The 737-10 has a bit less range than the A321neo or Boeing’s 757. But some airlines are planning to their older 757s with the type.
737-10 – One Of Three Boeings Up For Certification
Beyond the 737-10, Boeing is also yet to get certification for the 737-7, the smallest MAX variant. This aircraft could get the all-clear from the FAA in the next few weeks. It is possible that this could happen just before the new year, allowing Boeing to end 2023 on a high. The main customer for the 737-7 is Southwest, with over 300 orders.
But the FAA flight testing of the 737-7 ended in 2021. However, the flight testing and certification of the 737-10 should progress faster. A lot of the delays in the 737-7 program had to do with the fact that this was the first new 737 variant up for certification, after the 737 MAX crashes in 2018 and 2019.
Boeing and the FAA have both learned a lot from the ongoing work on the 737-7. Even so, the certification of the 737-10 won’t come before the second half of 2024. Some analysts expect the aircraft to enter service in 2025.
Still, the news that the 737-10 can now start certification flights in the hands of FAA pilots, boosted Boeing’s share price on Wednesday. The manufacturer is also working on the certification of the 777-9, with the 777-8 and the 777-8F freighter to follow.