The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told Boeing Co that its planned 777X was not yet ready for a major certification milestone and warned that it would only “realistically” certify the aircraft in the middle of the process. end of 2023.
In a May 13 letter to Boeing seen by Reuters, the FAA cited a number of problems in denying a manufacturer’s request to issue a type inspection clearance (TIA). “The aircraft is not yet ready for the TIA,” the FAA wrote, declining to approve “a progressive TIA of limited scope with a small number of certification flight test plans.”
The letter, which had not been made public previously, cites numerous concerns about the lack of data and the lack of a preliminary safety assessment for the FAA to review.
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“The FAA will not approve any aircraft unless it meets our safety and certification standards,” the agency said in a statement on Sunday.
Boeing has been developing the wide-body jet, a new version of its popular 777 aircraft, since 2013 and is expected to launch it for airlines in 2020.
A Boeing spokeswoman said on Sunday that the company “remained fully focused on safety as our top priority throughout the development of the 777X. While we put the aircraft through a comprehensive testing program to demonstrate its safety and reliability, we work through a rigorous development process to ensure we meet all applicable requirements. “
The 777X will be the first major jet to be certified as software flaws in two Boeing 737 MAX jets caused fatal crashes and sparked accusations of a warm relationship between the company and the FAA.
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European regulators have said in particular that they will subject the 777X to further scrutiny after fatal crashes caused the 737 MAX to stand still for 20 months.
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The MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people in five months in 2018 and 2019.
The letter cites a number of issues that still need to be addressed, including an “upcoming major software update with the flight control software load … The FAA understands that there are many important problem reporting items that will be resolved by this version of the software load, including the software patch for the uncontrolled pitch event that occurred on December 8, 2020. “
The agency added that “software upload dates are continually slipping and the FAA needs better visibility into the causes of the delays.”
He said that “after the uncommanded pitch event, the FAA has yet to see how Boeing is fully implementing all corrective actions identified by the root cause investigation.”
The agency said it wanted Boeing to “implement a robust process so that a similar breakout does not happen in the future and is not a systemic issue.”
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The FAA said in its letter that the certification date for the 777X “will realistically be mid to late 2023 (> 2 years from now”).
Boeing chief executive Dave Calhoun said earlier this month that “we are still confident” that he will be certified in the fourth quarter of 2023.
The letter was reported earlier by the Seattle Times.