CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA — 737 MAX 7 certification takes longer than expected but Boeing still targets year-end approval. 

The certification process for Boeing's 737 MAX 7 has been considerably prolonged due to enhanced documentation requirements, according to a company executive. Nevertheless, the aerospace manufacturer remains optimistic about obtaining certification by the year's end.

Both the MAX 7 and MAX 10 models are crucial for Boeing's competitiveness against Airbus in the large and small segments of the narrowbody market.

Southwest Airlines had initially intended to receive the first MAX 7 this year. However, the CEO of the airline has indicated that plans to introduce the aircraft into service could be postponed until 2024.

Boeing is currently preparing the last few documents needed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as it navigates the regulatory steps to obtain clearance for the 737 MAX 7's service introduction. This update was provided by Mike Fleming, Boeing's Senior Vice President for Commercial Development Programs, during a press briefing.

Fleming also mentioned that Boeing is nearing FAA approval to initiate certification flights of its extended 737 MAX 10. Although the certification for this aircraft is anticipated in 2024, the timeline will depend on when Boeing receives the green light to start these flights.

Fleming acknowledged that the volume of documentation required for these aircraft is significantly more extensive than what was necessary in the past. "The amount of documentation that we're producing on these airplanes relative to what we had to produce in the past is considerably much larger than it has been," he stated.

In response to Boeing's comments, the FAA maintained its stance that safety will dictate the timeline for certification and refrained from commenting on ongoing certification processes.

In December, Congress granted the MAX 7 and MAX 10 exemption from a new safety standard regulating modern cockpit alerts, which was applicable to all planes certified after late 2022. This mandate was established by Congress in 2020 following two fatal 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that resulted in the death of 346 people.