Boeing 737 MAX 7 delivery delayed to 2024 amid certification challenges

  • Boeing announces a delay in the first delivery of its 737 MAX 7 to 2024, with FAA certification flight testing for the MAX 10 slated for 2023.
  • Delays could impact Southwest Airlines' expansion plans, as they exclusively operate the 737.
  • The FAA and Boeing continue to work on safety management system documentation, with no clear timetable for certification completion.

ARLINGTON —Boeing faces a setback again, with the first delivery of the 737 MAX 7 now pushed to 2024, according to their recent SEC filing. Interestingly, on Wednesday afternoon, the aviation giant saw a 7.7% increase in its stock, buoyed by the Q2 results that surpassed expectations.

Southwest Airlines, known for exclusively flying the 737, had originally hoped for the MAX 7's entry into service by 2022. With this shift, they might have to recalibrate their growth strategy. Bob Jordan, Southwest's CEO, had alluded to this possibility earlier in March, mentioning that the earliest the MAX 7 might see service would be in 2024.

The FAA's nod is imperative for Boeing as they seek to move ahead. While the company is optimistic that the FAA will green-light the MAX 7 in 2023, insider sources reveal that there's extensive discussion ongoing about the necessary safety documentation. The FAA maintained its stance on prioritizing safety, refraining from committing to a fixed certification timeline.

Dave Calhoun, Boeing's CEO, had painted a hopeful picture earlier this year, forecasting the MAX 7 deliveries to commence within the year and the MAX 10 to follow the next. Contrarily, by May, the tone changed with Mike Fleming, overseeing commercial development programs at Boeing, stating that novel documentation standards have lengthened the certification process for the MAX 7.

Both the MAX 7 and the MAX 10 stand as crucial models for Boeing as they jostle with Airbus in the narrowbody airplane market. The MAX 10 is positioned to take on Airbus' A321 neo, while the more compact MAX 7 is set against the Airbus A220.

Ben Minicucci, the CEO of Alaska Airlines, last month expressed the airline's keen anticipation to integrate the larger 737 MAX 10, which would allow them to accommodate a higher number of passengers. The green light for the MAX 10 is tied to the certification of the smaller MAX 7. Their journey to certification has been riddled with obstacles, especially in the wake of the MAX 8's earlier challenges, including the tragic accidents in 2018 and 2019.