In a letter, the FAA has informed Boeing that some missing paperwork for the 737-7 could delay its certification beyond the end of 2022.
Early in September, we saw that Boeing seems to have accepted that the certification of the 737-10, the largest MAX variant, won’t take place before the end of this year. And this is a big deal because, under current rules, the aircraft will need additional crew alerting systems, if certification comes from 2023 onwards.
Boeing intends to ask for an extension to this deadline. It argues that the intent of this change in the rules was not to stop the 737-10’s certification. When this requirement was introduced (in 2020), Boeing, the FAA and others expected that the 737-7 and 737-10 would be certified before 2023.
The news now is that even the 737-7’s certification looks very likely to slip into 2023. This story comes from Dominic Gates in the Seattle Times. In a letter, the FAA had previously told Boeing to turn in all remaining System Safety Assessments (SSAs) for the 737-7 by mid-September. The certification of each aircraft involves the review and approval of a number of these documents, with less than 10% of them having approval by mid-September.
Boeing and FAA 737-7 Progress
Boeing and the FAA are working on another 70% of the SSAs for the 737-7. But the FAA’s Lirio Liu wrote to Boeing that it has yet to make initial submissions for six remaining SSAs. With processing and revisions of this documentation likely to take a lot of time, Boeing is running out of time. But perhaps this isn’t the way the manufacturer sees the issue.
Boeing says that it doesn’t want to rush the FAA and hurry the certification of the 737-7 and 737-10. The manufacturer has stated that it is trying to establish the necessary time. The Seattle Times also reveals that Boeing could be about to get the extension that it needs, for both variants. As we’ve seen, Boeing argues that having aircraft fleets with different warning systems between types negates any potential safety gains that additional systems may bring on part of the fleet.
Some American lawmakers are reportedly asking the FAA for an estimate on the time Boeing will need to certify the 737-7 and 737-10. Some work, in the form of bill amendments, could be seen to move the crew alerting deadline to September 30th, 2024. This date is likely to change, even if the amendment goes through.
This is far from over. While some politicians feel Boeing has had enough time already, others would rather let the certification of the 737-7 and 737-10 to the FAA. With mid-term elections also on the way, the timing of this matter is quite sensitive. Meanwhile, Boeing just secured another 737-10 order from Canada’s SpiceJet, adding to the voices behind the program.