Federal Aviation Administration Delays Boeing 777X Certification Citing Serious Issues

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In yet another setback to Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration has delayed significant certification of 777X aircraft. In a letter to the world’s largest aerospace company, the FAA said that the 777X is not likely to be certified before mid-to late-2023 at the earliest. The 777X is a forthcoming giant wide-body airplane of the jet maker. In a sternly worded letter sent last month, the FAA has cited several notable concerns. Among the most important ones was the performance of the plane during the test flight. It cited the incident of “uncommanded pitch event” that happened during the test flight on December 8, 2020. The nose of the plane pitched abruptly up or down during the flight without getting any input from the pilots. The planemaker has yet to satisfy the FAA that it has correctly understood the issue or has fixed what went wrong during that test flight. The aviation regulator said that Boeing may have to increase the number of test flights it has planned to get the certification. Boeing had planned to start commercial use of 777X by 2020. But with the delay in the certification, the aircraft is now expected to start commercial flights in early 2024.

The letter sent to Boeing was signed by local FAA office manager Ian Won. Won’s office judges whether the planemaker has met all regulatory standards. In the letter, Won told Boeing that the proposed critical avionics system for the aircraft does not fulfill all the required criteria. He has also expressed concerns about changes to both software and hardware of the flight controls of the aircraft. Some changes have been proposed by Boeing on both the front. “The 777X is not yet ready. The technical data hints that aircraft type design is not ready to get the certification. There are things that need to be done to meet the applicable regulations,” Won wrote in the letter. “The certification of the 777X is now under a lot of attention at high levels,” another FAA official was quoted as saying by a media report on the condition of anonymity.

The last all-new jet of the company, Boeing 787, was grounded in the year 2013 because of issues related to its batteries. The batteries of the plane had smoldered in flight. The company faced another setback in 2019 when its next new plane was grounded in 2019. Boeings’ 737 MAX was grounded for 21 after two back-to-back fatal crashes because of flawed new flight controls. Now the company is facing a tough time getting the required certificate for its forthcoming 777X. Some are now wondering that the FAA is getting tough on Boeing because of all the scrutiny. The FAA official said that the issues with the 777X warrant regulatory attention even if the MAX crashes had not happened. Within the FAA, there is a general feeling that Boeing has lost its reputation of being engineering prowess. Because of recent incidents, the company has lost the ability to say to FAA ‘just trust us.’ The FAA has said that the aircraft will get approval only after it meets all its safety and certification standards. “Safety of passengers is crucial when we decide to give the plane required approval for commercial use,” the FAA said in a statement. Commenting on the letter by the FAA, Boeing said that it is fully committed to the safety of passengers and it remained a top priority throughout the development of 777X. The plane is currently is undergoing a ‘comprehensive test program’ in order to fulfill the requirements.

 

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