The end of 2023 is approaching and Boeing has not yet obtained type certification for the 737 MAX 7, the smallest variant of the narrow-body jet family.
The planemaker planned to receive approval from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) around November to begin deliveries of the aircraft, starting with Southwest Airlines, its launch customer.
The US carrier itself, however, expects the aircraft to be certified only in April and will only have the first 737-7 between October and November 2024.
Questioned by Reuters, the FAA stated that it does not have a specific timetable to issue certification for the commercial jet and that it will approve it when it is satisfied with the data it needs to consider it safe.
The FAA’s stance today is very different from March 2017, when the agency granted type certification to the 737 MAX 8.
“This certification is a true testament to the dedication and commitment of our entire MAX team throughout the process, from airplane design to flight testing,” Keith Leverkuhn, then vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program, said at the time.
At the time, Boeing itself carried out part of the certification procedures on behalf of the FAA.
As is know, the aircraft had a serious systems failure that took control of the 737 from the pilots and placed it at high angles of attack. Two jets, from Ethiopian and Malindo Air, crashed, killing all occupants.
After resisting for a long time that there were flaws in the procedures, the FAA began to adopt more rigorous criteria for approving Boeing planes and returned to being responsible for the entire process.
The Boeing 737 MAX 7 first flew in March 2018 and could take five years to enter service.
The 737 MAX 8 made its maiden flight in January 2016 and entered service in May 2017, or just 16 months later. The 737 MAX 9 version was even faster: between the first flight, in April 2017, and the start of commercial flights, in March 2018, just 11 months passed.