August 17, 2022

Boeing is threatening to cancel the 737 MAX 10 program, unless regulators grant the aircraft manufacturer an exception for new safety requirements.

Boeing CEO says company could walk away from 737 MAX 10

Boeing is currently working on getting certification for the 737 MAX 10, which is the highest capacity version of the Boeing 737. Boeing has been under increased scrutiny when it comes to certification of planes, given what we’ve learned about Boeing’s culture after two 737 MAX crashes.

In late 2020, Congress passed the Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act, requiring planes certified as of 2023 to comply with the latest crew alert regulations mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The 737 MAX is the only new Boeing jet not to feature this technology, given that the plane is based on an aircraft that was designed in the 1960s. So Boeing is in a tricky situation — if the 737 MAX isn’t certified by the end of 2022, the plane will need to feature all new safety technology, which will be costly, further increase the timeline for certification, and will also require additional training for pilots on the jet (and a big selling point of the 737 MAX in the first place was the lack of additional training required).

Of course it’s possible that the plane gets certified before the end of the year, though at this point it seems unlikely.

Aviation Week reports that Boeing CEO David Calhoun has hinted that the aircraft manufacturer would just scrap the 737 MAX 10 project if certification isn’t granted without this updated system. Calhoun stated that “even a world without the -10 is not that threatening,” and “it’s just a risk” that the project may need to be scrapped.

So the message from Boeing is clear — either certify the aircraft with the current technology, or Boeing just won’t bother.

Boeing may scrap the 737 MAX 10

Is Boeing bluffing? Will regulators give in?

One certainly has to wonder how this will play out.

On the one hand, Boeing is bluffing by pretending it’s happy to just write off the entire 737 MAX 10 project. There are 600+ orders for these planes, and it’s rumored that Delta is also preparing to order this jet.

Capacity-wise, this is also an important jet to compete with the Airbus A321neo. Boeing has no narrow bodies that can compete with the range of the upcoming A321XLR, but at least the 737 MAX 10 can carry a lot of passengers.

That’s not to say Boeing won’t scrap the project, but this definitely isn’t a case of “oh it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t work out.”

There’s no denying that adding these changes would be costly and time consuming, and would complicate 737 MAX operations. So I’d almost feel sorry for Boeing, except for the fact that Boeing lost so much credibility after everything that was uncovered following two 737 MAX crashes. It’s Boeing’s very behavior that’s causing the increased scrutiny around aircraft certification.

If we do get to the point where this jet isn’t certified in 2022, and if Boeing threatens to walk away from the plane, could we see the government get involved and somehow still grant an exception? After all, we are talking about billions of dollars worth of aircraft manufactured in the United States.

Boeing doesn’t want new safety guidelines for the 737 MAX

Bottom line

Boeing is facing quite the deadline with getting the 737 MAX 10 certified. If the plane isn’t certified by the end of 2022, Boeing will have to install all new technology on the jet, which will be costly and require more pilot training. Boeing is threatening to walk away from the plane if it’s not approved without these new safety requirements.

How do you see this playing out for the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX?

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