FRANKFURT, GERMANY — During a recent interview with Aviation Week, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Executive Director, Patrick Ky, confirmed significant progress in the ongoing discussions surrounding the certification of Boeing's groundbreaking, newer generation widebody aircraft.

The EASA chief highlighted that the aircraft is undergoing an extensive certification process to ensure that it meets the highest safety standards.

Ky emphasized the importance of transparency and collaboration between EASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the certification process, especially considering the lessons learned from the Boeing 737 MAX crisis.

He also noted that EASA had been closely monitoring the 777X's development and is committed to ensuring that the certification process follows a stringent set of criteria.

Ky pointed out that the 777X's folding wingtips, which were designed to allow the aircraft to fit into existing airport infrastructure, are a novel feature. Due to this innovation, EASA is working closely with Boeing to ensure that the wingtips comply with necessary safety standards.

In addition to the folding wingtips, EASA is also scrutinizing the aircraft's updated GE9X engines. The engines, which are the largest and most powerful ever produced by General Electric, are undergoing an extensive review process to confirm their safety and reliability.

The EASA chief stated that although there is no specific timeline for the certification process, the agency is working diligently to complete it. He added that EASA is committed to prioritizing safety above all else and is confident that the process will result in a safe and reliable aircraft. Overall, the progress in the Boeing 777X certification talks signals a positive direction for the aircraft's eventual entry into service.

Sources familiar with the matter informed Aviation Week that the core disagreement between Boeing and EASA revolves around the 777X flight control system's susceptibility to potential common mode setbacks generated by events like lightning strikes, software glitches, improper maintenance, explosions, or electromagnetic interference. EASA argued that Boeing's fly-by-wire systems, which typically feature triple redundant architectures designed to withstand at least two failures, lacked adequate protection. Instead, the agency favored the approach employed in Airbus planes, such as the A320, which typically utilizes five distinct computers running four different software packages.

The 777X flight control system and its associated systems architecture is a development of the original 777 system, incorporating new elements used in Boeing 787. similar to the 787, but dissimilar to the 777, the 777X's fly-by-wire flight control system operates across all three axes (pitch, roll, and yaw). Although the pitch control law remains the same in the 777 and 787, the roll control law in the 777X is derived from the one used in the 787.