On Friday, November 18, Boeing’s first non-prototype 737 MAX 10 took off sporting United Airlines’ iconic blue and white livery. The brief test flight marks an important milestone for the MAX 10 project. Boeing hopes to get the MAX 10 certified as soon as possible. However, federal regulations may require the aircraft to receive multiple changes prior to certification if the process is not completed by the end of the year.
MAX test flight
United Airlines’ first MAX 10 has been sitting idle on the apron at Washington Municipal Airport (RNT) since it went out of production earlier this year. Since then, the plane has patiently waited its turn to join the thousands of Boeing planes in the sky. This week, it was finally given a chance when it made its first test flight. The state-of-the-art aircraft departed from RNT near Seattle and traveled to Grant County International Airport (MWH) in central Washington before returning to the Seattle area and landing at King County International Airport (BFI), also known as Boeing Field.
The aircraft with registration N27753 has become the third MAX 10 to take off. This aircraft is the first of more than 700 MAX 10s ordered by 15 different airlines. Only United Airlines has placed orders for more than 200 MAX. The airline already operates one of the world’s largest fleets of 737 MAX aircraft and is a major sponsor of the program. The airline has been eagerly awaiting delivery of the MAX 10 for several years, making the latest test flight a welcome sight for both Boeing and United.
Boeing is currently in a race against time as it appears to have the MAX 7 and 10 models certified for December. However, with each passing day, the likelihood of this coming to fruition grows ever slimmer. The manufacturer recently predicted that the aircraft would be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the summer of 2023. This race against time began in 2020 when new aircraft certification regulations were implemented.
Photo: Getty Images
At the end of 2020, the Aircraft Safety and Certification Reform Act came into effect. This would require a more advanced security system to be installed on all newly certified aircraft. Aircraft models that have already received approval would be exempt from this regulation. However, aircraft under development at the time, such as the MAX 7 and MAX 10, would require many improvements to the aircraft’s safety systems. Boeing negotiated a two-year reprieve on the regulation, giving it time to certify its two remaining MAX models.
The COVID-19 pandemic significantly delayed the development and production of both models, making it much more difficult to obtain certification on time. Despite Boeing’s best efforts, the FAA has been slow to move forward with the certification process, leading many to suspect that the FAA plans to postpone certification until 2023. This idea is further validated as new standards Safety measures implemented in 2020 were largely driven by the two tragic 737 MAX accidents in 2018 and 2019.
Let’s assume that the two MAX variants are to be equipped with the new safety systems. In that case, the project is likely to be delayed for several months, as the aircraft will need to be redesigned and all existing models will need to be retrofitted with the new equipment. This will further delay aircraft deliveries and prove costly for Boeing.
What do you think of United’s new Boeing 737 MAX 10? Let us know in the comments below.
Source: BOE Family Flights
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