U.S. FAA not committing to timeline to approve Boeing 737 MAX 7, 10

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. regulators are not committing to a timeline to approve the Boeing (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX 7 or MAX 10, the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday.

Boeing faces a late December deadline set by Congress to win certification of the two variants of the MAX before a new safety standard on cockpit alerts takes effect. Asked if it was likely the FAA would certify the MAX 7 before the end of the year, Acting Administrator Billy Nolen told reporters on the sidelines of an aviation event: “I am not going to commit to a timeline … We are working through that as purposefully as we can and we will get it done when we get it done.”

Some Boeing customers and analysts do not think there is enough time remaining for the FAA to complete certification tasks before the deadline for the MAX 10 but think the MAX 7 could win approval later this year.

Ryanair told Reuters in August that Boeing appears to have accepted it will not be able to certify its MAX 10 aircraft by year-end, but it remains possible that U.S. lawmakers could give it more time.

Nolen said Congress had required Boeing to submit system safety analyses as part of the 2020 aircraft certification reform bill and they must be approved by FAA before the planes can be approved. “That’s a pretty heavy lift and it’s a heavy lift for Boeing,” Nolen said.

Congress could opt to waive those cockpit alerting requirements or give Boeing an extension. “We are going to let the 10 take whatever time takes to do it safely,” Nolen said. “The decision as to whether or not it goes beyond the new year rests with Congress.”

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