Boeing Dealt 737-7 Certification Blow

Boeing has no timeline in place for when the 737-7 will be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and as a result will not meet its 2023 deadline with delays extending into 2024

Certification of Boeing’s 737-7 has been dealt another blow as reports indicate that there’s still no specific timetable around the approval.

These reports come from reputable Reuters, who said a top official from the Federal Aviation Administration informed them of the development.

No 2023 Certification For Boeing 737-7

Throughout the 2023 calendar year, Boeing had made it clear they were targeting a 737-7 approval. The ambition was to achieve this by the end of the year at the latest. However, with less than ten days left, these plans have ultimately been unable to take place.

Since the 737-7 began testing, there have been multiple back-and-forths between the plane maker and the FAA to get the plane approved. In most cases, analysts would argue this has occurred more than ever.

This back and forth can be attributed directly to the 737 MAX crisis that impacted the series from 2019 onwards. This crisis, spurred on by the lack of adequate certification, resulted in hundreds losing their lives alongside a complete review of how new aircraft were approved.

Therefore, especially for the 737 MAX, the parameters around approval for the remaining two variants have undoubtedly become tighter.

The FAA says that planes must be deemed safe before flying with customers, and the certification process needs continuous improvement. Additionally, there must be a focus on addressing new technologies implemented on aircraft and ensuring they’re up to standard.

Breaking Down The New Reports

The Federal Aviation Administration, per its head Michael Whitaker, says they’ll only approve the Boeing 737-7 once all the data is collected and it can be deemed safe.

As a result, a timetable for this approval isn’t in place, and thus, Boeing won’t be able to hit its target of a 2023 certification. Despite this, the plane maker has said it’s constantly communicating with the FAA to meet all their requirements for the new variant.

Boeing is looking towards a crucial exemption of specific outlined regulations around the 737-7s engine nacelle inlet structure alongside the engine anti-ice system.

If Boeing could obtain such an exemption, it would allow the 737-7 to be certified while Boeing looks towards design changes for the specific systems.

However, away from this, the program has persistently incurred delays, and the FAA’s focus has seen the aircraft come under a fine microscope.

Airlines Still Await The 737-7 & 737-10

While no timeline has been provided on when the 737-7 will obtain certification, Southwest, per their latest guidance, is hopeful of an early 2024 approval. As a result, by the end of the 2024 calendar year, they’d begin flying the 737-7.

The focus has certainly been on the smallest member in the 737 MAX series. However, the certification problem extends past the smallest variant in the series and towards the largest, the 737-10, which also remains uncertified.

As a result, Boeing has significant variants with several hundred commitments in place and substantial interest that remains uncertified. This means pressures are beginning to mount, and patience is wearing thin.

Boeing recently obtained the required approvals from the FAA to begin certification test flights for its 737-10. However, the company is still far from getting the largest member approved.

Several customers, including Ryanair, have expressed frustration over the persistent delays and the negative impacts on their fleet. However, safety is paramount; if delays must be incurred to protect the plane’s integrity, it’s a no-brainer.

Daniel Fowkes
21 Dec 2023
· Aircraft 

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