The Boeing 777X remains one of the most hotly anticipated aircraft to debut with customers. Whether it’s because of the advancements in technology, it being a new aircraft or due to the continued wait for its eventual launch.
The first 777-9 was expected to be delivered midway through 2020. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out according to plan, as Boeing has been bombarded with difficulties for the program. In addition, it was forced to navigate the 737 MAX crisis, 787 quality assurance difficulties and the global pandemic. These all negatively impacted progress.
It is rare for new aircraft to enter service ideally, mainly because of the tight deadlines. For example, Airbus is currently plotting the certification of their latest member to the A321neo family, the A321XLR. However, these plans have been halted following a fuel tank safety concern being identified. This will push back the variant’s entry into service to 2024.
Now, over three years ago, the 777X completed its first flight. Recently, the executive director at the EASA, Europe’s aviation regulator, sat with Reuters to discuss the program and its current status with the governing body. The executive director said he was hopeful there was progress on the certification. He noted that the pair actively worked to find a middle ground and have their certification paths finally overlap. This is something they’re personally hopeful will happen with time.
New aircraft, alongside their features, must be inspected closely for the necessary approval. For example, with their 777X, Boeing wants to adjust the flight control system within the cockpit, which has come under close inspection. However, as per Reuters, this has resulted in the EASA and Boeing locking horns and further delaying the approval.
Delays aren’t out of the ordinary and especially for regulators seeking further clarity on changes being made to a type. However, this can only be significantly heightened following the 737 MAX crisis and 787 quality assurance difficulties that have put a further focus on plane safety. Of course, the FAA has the most considerable authority over the plane. However, since recent events have been transcribed, other regulators have kept a watchful eye, maybe more so than ever.
Boeing is also trying to secure certification on its remaining two variants of the 737 MAX family, the -7 and -10. The American plane maker hopes to achieve this by the summer. However, further delays could put the -10 program at risk, per reports.
The certification of aircraft remains one of the biggest challenges for manufacturers, and the 777X is one of the perfect examples of this.