MIAMI – Airlines will need to wait a bit longer to take delivery of the Boeing 777X. FAA officials are insisting on additional testing due to insufficient data on software fixes and an in-flight incident that apparently triggered the plane to move without pilots’ input during a December flight.

Bloomberg and Aerotime Hub report today that the FAA says the Boeing 777X is not yet ready for the next step of the certification process. It’s now likely that Boeing’s newest plane will receive certification in late 2023 or early 2024.

Boeing announced in January that it anticipated the Boeing 777X wouldn’t be approved until the same time frame.

Boeing 777X. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

The Letter

The Seattle Times received a copy of a letter sent to Boeing by the FAA. That letter, signed by Ian Won, the manager of the local FAA office, cites numerous concerns. The FAA says that certification of the plane was “realistically” two or more years away. The Agency says that the critical avionics system proposed for the Boeing 777X aircraft does not meet safety requirements.

“The aircraft is not yet ready,” Won wrote. “The technical data required for type certification has not reached a point where it appears the aircraft type design is mature and can be expected to meet the applicable regulations.”

“The FAA anticipates a significant impact to the level of regression testing, change impact analysis, and the potential to increase the number of certification flight tests that will need to take place,” the letter said.

“Boeing remains fully focused on safety as our highest priority throughout 777X development,” said a spokesperson in response to the letter. “We are working through a rigorous development process to ensure we meet all applicable requirements.”

Boeing 777x final short in Everett Pain Field Airport (KPAE). Photo: Brandon Farris

Timeline Pushed Back

Boeing has worked on this 777 variant since 2013. Original plans had the plane operational in 2020. But issues surrounding the 737 MAX and Dreamliner, delayed the Boeing 777X’s arrival to commercial service numerous times.

Emirates (EK), the largest customer for the Boeing 777X, has 150 on order. The airline has said that it lacked “visibility” from Boeing regarding the type’s delivery timeline. 

“I would like more visibility when exactly we are going to receive these airplanes and what exactly they are going to be able to do with regards to their performance,” Emirates CEO Sir Tim Clark said speaking at the World Aviation Festival virtual event on April 21, 2021. 

Aerotime Hub reports that earlier in 2021, Emirates said that it is possible that it will replace some of its ordered 777Xs with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The airline had not made the decision whether it would swap the folding wing aircraft for more Boeing 787s or more Boeing 777-9s, according to Clark.

Cathay Pacific (CX), the first Boeing 777X customer, is in “advanced negotiations” with Boeing to defer its 21 Boeing 777X aircraft order without downsizing it.

Featured image: Boeing 777X final short in Everett Pain Field Airport (KPAE). Photo: Brandon Farris