Boeing would like to certify its 737 MAX 10, the largest of its re-engined single-aisle aircraft, without a newly imposed safety system from the FAA.
After the certification of the MAX 8 and then the MAX 9, the recertification of the MAX 8 involved in two accidents that killed 346 people at Lion Air then Ethiopian Airlines, and the certification of the MAX 8-200, the American aircraft manufacturer still has to have the regulator two latest models: the MAX 7 would be on the right track, but the MAX 10 presents another problem. As the Seattle Times reports, citing multiple sources at the FAA, Boeing would like to certify the 737 MAX 10 without the latest safety standards on the design of cockpit crew alerts; EICAS (Engine Indication and Crew Alerting System) tells pilots what is wrong on board the aircraft and how to fix the situation, and is already present in all other Boeings. But the cockpit of the 737 does not lend itself to its installation, and the aircraft manufacturer would like to put it aside in order to start delivering the MAX 10s by the end of the year.
It’s a timing problem for Boeing: the law of the end of 2020 “Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act”, which among other things allowed the FAA to regain control of a certification process partly delegated to manufacturers, obliges all aircraft certified after December 31, 2022 to comply with the latest crew alert regulations, including the famous EICAS. If certification of the MAX 10 is not obtained before this date, Boeing could be forced to review the cockpit of the aircraft, and therefore delay its entry into service even further (initially hoped for in July 2020). This redesign had already been declared “impossible” by the manufacturer. And a pilot training program different from other versions of the MAX would become mandatory.
The Seattle Times explains that Boeing lobbyists should soon take action in Congress, in order to obtain an amendment extending the deadline. The aircraft manufacturer said in a statement, “We continue to work transparently with the FAA to provide the information they need, and we are committed to meeting their expectations to achieve certification of the 737-10.”
According to ch-aviation, Boeing has received orders for 613 MAX 10 from twelve customers: Copa Airlines, Donghai Airlines, Flydubai, GOL, Lion Air, Okay Airways, SkyUp Airlines, United Airlines – best customer with 250, VietJetAir , Virgin Australia and WestJet.
During the presentation of its financial results at the end of January, the aircraft manufacturer expressed its optimism regarding the 737 MAX program (245 deliveries last year), in particular following the green light from China on its return: Boeing hoped that this would enable it to reduce the number of re-engined single-aisle aircraft not delivered (about 335 in total at the end of January), and potentially sell more in what is its primary market. And it “evaluates the schedule for further rate increases”, which should increase from 26 to 31 per month at the start of 2022; according to Reuters, this rate could reach 47 per month by the end of 2023.