PARIS, FRANCE — Boeing sets stage for 777X certification after clearing EASA and FAA queries.

In a notable advancement, Boeing has concluded the query response stage with both the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), specifically addressing the 777X's novel design features and redundancy within its flight control system. The aerospace giant indicates it is prepared to initiate aircraft certification as soon as greenlighted by the U.S. regulator.

The eagerly-awaited 777-9, due to make its first appearance at the Paris Air Show, is set to enter service in 2025. Its journey has been riddled with obstacles, such as the global health crisis and amplified regulatory scrutiny following the tragic 737 MAX accidents in 2018 and 2019. As Boeing eagerly awaits the FAA's type inspection authorization (TIA) – a crucial step signifying the official commencement of certification – the aircraft is finally ready to take the center stage.

Speaking on the preparedness of the project, Justin Hale, the 777X customer leader and product marketing director at Boeing, affirmed, "We are ready from an airplane standpoint for TIA.” The three currently operational development aircraft have collectively chalked up around 3,000 flight hours and 1,000 cycles in the program. A fourth plane, currently being upgraded with a comprehensive interior, is slated to join the testing phase later this year.

The 777X displays vertical take-off at Paris Air Show 2023 Video Credit: Alice is Flying

Regulatory concerns about potential common mode failures in the 777X flight control system have driven extensive component validation tests, stated Hale. While technical exchanges with the FAA are standard procedure in Boeing's certification projects, formal inquiries directly from EASA are less common, given EASA's role under the U.S.-European Union safety bilateral is to verify the FAA's findings. With EASA's apparent satisfaction, Hale noted, the process has returned to the usual bilateral function between the U.S. and EASA.

Despite the FAA's TIA not being contingent upon EASA's approval of the certification basis, it is crucial for the 777X program to gain universal compliance to proceed. The consensus with EASA re-establishes the customary bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Europe, wherein each regulator endorses the validating authority’s (VA) system without the VA's technical intervention or approval.

Future tests will encompass minimum landing distance and braking system performance for the 777-9 prototype, WH001. Meanwhile, the second aircraft, WH002, will undertake stability, control, and ride quality tests. The third aircraft, WH003, will concentrate on engine performance testing.

Heather Ross, an experimental test pilot at Boeing, stated, "We just completed takeoff performance and VMU (velocity minimum unstick) testing, a substantial risk reduction effort.” Further testing on takeoff and landing performance will proceed in the future. She also mentioned the forthcoming stability and control testing, part of their continued effort to enhance and update the flight control software.