For Boeing, the turn of the new year will see it attempt to hit several critical milestones and navigate many challenges equally.
A spotlight will be placed on the certification of aircraft types from the 737 MAX and 777X, while there’ll also be an important on the upcoming development of next-generation aircraft.
But just what are set to be some of the focal points of coverage for Boeing in 2024?
The Boeing 777X
One of Boeing’s pivotal focuses in 2024 is the 777X program. This flagship aircraft, comprising the 777-8 and 777-9 variants and a dedicated freighter, has encountered delays in its certification timeline.
With a target entry into service in 2025, 2024 is thus poised to be a crucial year for Boeing to continue on the pathway to certification with the hopes of no niggles to delay this.
Initial expectations would’ve seen the type operating scheduled passenger flights in 2020, so a 2025 EIS would represent a five-year deal. However, it isn’t unusual for delays to be incurred.
Delays to EIS are pretty standard for new aircraft being introduced. This can come thanks to factors such as heightened strictness of approval of new technology, among many more.
The A380 experienced a similar fate as many other aircraft, including Airbus’ upcoming A321XLR. Following the MAX crisis, analysts argue the certification process has become even more challenging.
777X Headed To Emirates In 2024
As Boeing continues on a path to approval for the 777X in 2024, reports suggest a 777-9 will be sent to Emirates for test purposes. Once with Emirates for a period, this unit will be a significant step towards commercial service.
This move could be seen as an attempt to address concerns raised by Emirates, Boeing’s largest 777X customer, who has been vocal about delays. These delays have impacted their operations and long-term planning, including aircraft retirements that have been alerted.
The deployment and testing on actual routes signifies Boeing’s commitment to, you could say, keeping its most important customer happy. For Emirates, it gives them a fantastic chance to explore better what the type will bring for their operations when formal deliveries commence in 2025.
737 MAX Headache
Another cornerstone in Boeing’s 2024 agenda is the certification of the remaining variants of the 737 MAX, the 737-7, and the 737-10.
Southwest, a significant customer for the 737 series and especially the MAX, said towards the third quarter of 2023, they anticipate certification of the 737-7 by April 2024. However, they wouldn’t fly the aircraft formally with passengers until the year’s end.
Towards the backend of 2023, conflicting reports from Reuters, citing the FAA, indicate that there is no fixed timetable for certification, so that it could occur sooner or later. This uncertainty poses challenges for airlines like Southwest, which plan their operations around aircraft retirements, new units arriving and more.
If that approval or EIS continues to change for the 737-7, which it has done for some time, harm can be brought to airlines’ operations and finances. Additionally, the worst-case scenario for an aircraft manufacturer is compensation sought for the damages.
Ultimately, a delay to the 737-7 could have cascading effects on the 737-10, the largest member of the series, which has always been said to be certified after the -7.
The question arises whether frustrations will grow among customers as they grapple with uncertain timelines and potential operational disruptions. Ryanair has also been vocal about the 737-10 delays.
A Smooth Year Overall
Amidst these specific challenges, Boeing will aspire to have a smooth year for the first time in a while. A smooth year would encompass seamless production processes, on-time deliveries, and consistent adherence to ensuring the product they put out is of the highest standards.
2023 was a substantial improvement, but there were inevitable niggles that appeared, which maybe, to an extent, can’t be helped. However, the plane maker will want to weed as many of these out as possible.
If Boeing could achieve smoother operations, it would lead to several benefits. Fewer faults mean fewer delays, and that’s a win-win for the plane maker and customers.
Next-Generation Aircraft And Technology
Looking beyond immediate challenges, Boeing is committed to working behind the scenes to create a new aircraft that embraces crucial next-gen technology.
Boeing must stay ahead of the curve as the aviation industry undergoes a transformative period marked by a focus on sustainability, efficiency, and technological advancements.
The development of a new aircraft will no doubt involve incorporating cutting-edge technologies. What all this is remains to be seen, but Boeing’s subsequent entry into the market, many likely believe, will be a clean sheet.
Additionally, analysts mark it as the first new era since the 787 redefined efficient long-haul travel. Based on propulsion concepts and what’s being studied now, the result could look very different to the commercial airlines we’ve come to know and love.
To summarise, 2024 will be another big year for Boeing, and an overarching goal will be to limit the challenges wherever possible.
The 777X program, with its deployment to Emirates on a test period and certification targets, will be closely monitored. This all follows in light of past delays.
On a smaller scale, the 737 MAX series will be hot on the radar, with the certification of the 737-7 and 737-10 variants. Can Boeing get the -7 approved sooner rather than later? How long will we have to wait for the -10? All these questions are valid concerns among many more that’ll take place in 2024.