Key Points:

  • Boeing is nearing FAA certification approval for the 737-7 and anticipates beginning formal flight-testing for the 737-10, aiming for deliveries to commence in early 2024 and early 2025, respectively.

  • The 737-7 certification is projected to be finalized by year-end, aligning with earlier predictions, and could enable initial deliveries to Southwest Airlines by early 2024.

  • The 737-10 is progressing through its required pre-flight testing checklist, with flight testing for certification credit potentially starting by year-end, leading to a 2025 delivery start.

Approaching Certification: Boeing's 737-7 and 737-10 Variants

SEATTLE — Boeing is on the cusp of achieving significant milestones in the development of its last two 737 MAX variants. Insiders report that the 737-7 is anticipated to receive FAA certification possibly as early as next month, with the timeline corresponding to earlier statements by Mike Fleming, 737 SVP of development programs and customer support. The progress would pave the way for the inaugural deliveries to Southwest Airlines in early 2024, according to AviationWeek.

Progress on the 737-10: Preparing for Flight Testing

Regarding the larger 737-10 variant, Boeing has completed around 70% of the FAA's prerequisites for type inspection authorization (TIA), which marks the commencement of certification credit flight testing. The company is diligently working with the FAA to finalize system safety assessments and validate new human factors assumptions. Should the TIA be granted by the year's end and flight testing proceeds smoothly, deliveries of the 737-10 could begin in the first quarter of 2025.

Boeing and FAA Navigate the New Certification Landscape

While official statements from Boeing have been cautiously vague, the latest plans suggested by Fleming in May anticipate certification of the 737-7 and TIA for the 737-10 within the current calendar year, with the 737-10's certification expected in 2024. However, the recent certification reforms have introduced a level of uncertainty, with Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and CFO Brian West emphasizing the fluid nature of the certification process and the FAA's pivotal role in determining the timeline.

Calhoun underscored that the majority of pending tasks involve "design assurance documentation" mandated by certification reforms enacted in late 2020. These reforms have widened the scope of the 737-10's certification, demanding additional changes that will eventually be applied fleet-wide.

Regulatory Exemptions and Technological Advancements

In a recent development, the FAA granted Boeing an exemption, allowing the 737-7 to be certified without new yaw-damper software, which will instead be introduced on the 737-10 and retrofitted onto other models at Boeing's cost. Additionally, the fifth production 737-10, destined for United Airlines, is contributing to Boeing's ecoDemonstrator program, while the only active 737 MAX family test aircraft, a 737-8, is engaged in systems tests, possibly related to the development of the new yaw damper software or the enhanced angle-of-attack system.In that dynamic and regulatory intensive landscape, Boeing and the FAA continue their collaborative efforts to ensure that the new 737 MAX variants meet the highest standards of safety and performance.