The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has informed Boeing that their new 777X aircraft, which is now undergoing testing, will most likely not be certified until mid- to late-2023.
The FAA has halted Boeing’s progress on a critical step in the plane’s certification, setting back the expected deadline for the FAA to grant the plane the green light by months.
Flight Test Problems
The letter, which was received on May 13 and reviewed by The Seattle Times, lists a number of problems with the plane. The most prominent occurrence occurred on a test flight in December 2020, when the plane had a “uncommanded pitch event,” in which the plane’s nose rapidly pitched up or down without pilot input. Boeing has yet to affirm that it fully comprehends and has resolved the issue that happened on that particular day.
The FAA believes an aspect of the aircraft’s Common Core System, which is described as the “core nervous system of the plane,” is not up to par, according to the letter. According to the FAA, the system has insufficient data and has not passed preliminary safety inspections. According to the report, the system was not properly peer-reviewed, leading in “inconsistencies and improper reuse of 787 data.”
Ian Won, the manager of the local FAA office, wrote to Boeing, saying, “The aircraft is not yet ready.” “The technical data required for type certification has not progressed to the point where the aircraft type design appears to be mature and capable of meeting the applicable regulations. The FAA expects a considerable impact on regression testing, change impact analysis, and the potential for an increase in the number of certification flight tests required.”
The certification delay is “the focus of a lot of interest” at both the FAA and Boeing, according to an FAA official. They went on to say, “There’s a broad impression that Boeing has kind of lost a stride” and has drifted away from its engineering prowess.
“Throughout the development of the 777X, we remain totally focused on safety as our primary priority,” Boeing states. The aircraft is undergoing “a comprehensive test program to demonstrate its safety and reliability to guarantee we meet all applicable criteria,” according to the manufacturer.
“We are working through a rigorous development process to ensure we meet all applicable criteria as we submit the airplane to a comprehensive test program to establish its safety and reliability. Boeing commented, “We continue to speak openly with the FAA and other global regulators about 777-9 certification.”
The FAA isn’t the only one with reservations about the 777X. EASA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, has also expressed reservations about the plane. According to an FAA letter, EASA is concerned about certain aspects of the aircraft’s design and “has not yet agreed on a way forward on the Model 777-9.”