SEATTLE, WASHINGTON — The certification process for Boeing's 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10 aircraft models is taking longer than initially projected, with timelines continuing to expand.

The ongoing delays are primarily attributed to the complex regulatory landscape, as civil aviation authorities worldwide are working in close coordination to ensure the safety and compliance of the new aircraft models. Consequently, the certification process is becoming more time-consuming than previously anticipated.

Boeing expects the 737 MAX to be certified this year. The aircraft began flight testing in 2021.

On the other hand, the 737-10 has yet to commence flight testing under the type inspection authorization granted by the FAA. Due to design modifications, some of which were triggered by the 737 MAX's grounding and worldwide regulatory examination, the 737-10's certification process is more intricate than that of the smaller MAX variants.

According to Boeing's recently submitted 2022 annual report, the 737-10 is scheduled to initiate FAA certification flight testing in 2023, with the first delivery anticipated in 2024. Meanwhile, the company projects that the 737-7 will receive certification and make its initial deliveries this year.

These setbacks in the certification process have implications not only for Boeing but also for its customers, who rely on the timely delivery of aircraft to support their operations. Airlines will need to reevaluate their fleet strategies and potentially look for alternative solutions to accommodate the delays.

Southwest, the biggest customer for the 737-7 with 186 orders, initially anticipated deliveries to commence in early 2022. However, due to the extended certification process, the airline has had to change its strategy by excluding the 737-7 from its 2023 network plan and retaining some older 737-700s that were previously slated for retirement.

“We are working very, very closely with Southwest to make sure that we could help them with their fleet management and how that’s all going to play out for the course of this year. So, no specifics, but it’s progressing,” Boeing CFO Brian West said at a Bank of America investor event March 22.

Southwest will require approximately six months after the initial deliveries to integrate the new aircraft into revenue-generating operations.