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Boeing’s 737 MAX 10 Gets Approval To Start Certification Flights

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  • Boeing has received approval from the FAA to begin the flight testing phase of its certification process for the MAX 10.
  • The aircraft is projected to be certified in 2024 alongside the low-capacity MAX 7 following several years of setbacks and delays.
  • Boeing has seen a recent surge in demand for its MAX program, scoring several high-profile orders at this year’s Dubai Airshow.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given Boeing the green light to launch flight tests for its MAX 10, a high-capacity variant of the Boeing 737 MAX airframe.

Cleared for take-off

As reported by Reuters, Boeing confirmed the announcement in a memo shared with employees on Wednesday. The FAA’s type inspection authorization will allow Boeing to begin flight testing its MAX 10 for eventual flight certification.

A Boeing 737 MAX 10

The program was delayed in 2019 after the crash of two 737 MAX 8 aircraft left Boeing’s MAX aircraft grounded. Boeing shifted its efforts from the overall program to work on recertifying its MAX 8 and MAX 9 jets through 2020 and 2021, briefly leaving the MAX 10 in limbo.

Boeing faced further setbacks in 2022 amid concerns it would be required to install an Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) to receive certification; however, a waiver from Congress has allowed Boeing to push back retrofitting the MAX 7 and MAX 10 until after regulatory approval.

Since launching flight testing with Boeing in 2021, the aircraft manufacturer has conducted over 400 flights, totaling around 1,000 hours of flight time in its testbed aircraft.

In a letter to employees, senior vice president Mike Fleming, 737 program manager Ed Clark, and president of test and evaluation Wayne Tygert celebrated the FAA’s decision, noting its recent successes in its testing for the aircraft,

“This is a significant milestone as we work to get the 737-10, the largest airplane in the 737 MAX family, certified to enter passenger service with operators around the world… The 737-10 has performed well in our own rigorous test programme.”

The aircraft is currently projected to be certified in 2024; however, the FAA has assured that safety will remain at the center of the process and dictate the timeline.

According to customer Southwest Airlines, the smaller 737 MAX 7 variant is eyed for certification in April 2024, with an anticipated entry into service date of October or November.

Speaking of the announcement, Boeing told Simple Flying,

“With more than 400 flights and nearly 1,000 flight hours, the 737-10 continues to perform well as we prove out its safety, reliability and performance through a rigorous testing and certification process. Boeing welcomes the FAA’s decision to grant type inspection authorization for the 737-10, clearing the airplane to begin certification flight testing. Certification is expected in 2024. We will follow the lead of the FAA as we work through the certification process.”

Changing tides

The announcement comes amid a recent shift in fortunes for the Seattle-based aircraft manufacturer, which saw it sweep up nearly 300 aircraft orders at this year’s Dubai Airshow, including 45 MAX orders from SunExpress and 20 from Ethiopian Airlines, a firm endorsement of Boeing’s return to industry dominance.

2022-073 (1) - Boeing 737 MAX 10 in factory livery

Speaking to Bloomberg at the airshow, CEO Mesfin Tasew addressed the potential controversy with the order following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in 2019,

“We believe we have checked and confirmed that the design defect of that aircraft has been fully corrected by Boeing. We have renewed our confidence in that aircraft.”

Boeing’s 737 MAX program has proven to be a sleeper hit with airlines, serving as an alternative to Airbus’ A320neo narrowbody family. The MAX 10 competes directly against Airbus’ A321neo middle-of-the-market product, offering seating for up to 230 passengers alongside a range of 3,100 NM, slightly lower than Airbus’ specifications.

What are your thoughts on the FAA’s decision to approve the 737 MAX 10 for flight testing? Let us know in the comments.

Sources: Reuters, FlightGlobal, Bloomberg

This post was brought to you by Simple Flying. Written By Molly Russell.