Southwest Airlines expects the Boeing 737 MAX 7 plane to receive certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) by April, allowing the airline to begin flying the aircraft in October and November 2024. This information was shared by a company executive in an interview with RushHourDaily. Southwest is the largest customer of the MAX 7, which is the smallest model in Boeing’s MAX family. Last month, the airline placed new orders for an additional 108 MAX 7 planes for delivery through 2031.
Andrew Watterson, the chief operating officer at Southwest, stated that for internal planning purposes, they assume the certification will happen in April and the aircraft will start flying in the October-November timeframe. However, Watterson mentioned that the April estimate includes a buffer and certification could still occur this year or in early 2024. Boeing is making progress in resolving open items on certification with the FAA. To account for potential delays, Southwest has added padding to their plans.
Watterson expressed optimism about the certification work, stating that they are getting closer to the end. Boeing has previously stated that it expects MAX 7 certification by the end of this year. The company remains committed to providing the FAA with the flexibility they need to make the final decision. A Boeing spokesperson declined to comment further on the matter.
The MAX 7 is expected to provide Southwest with flexibility in adjusting capacity to meet demand, as passenger traffic varies throughout the day and week. However, certification delays have led Southwest to convert some orders for the 150-seater MAX 7 into the larger 175-seater MAX 8 variant.
The FAA has not provided immediate comment on the timing of the MAX 7 certification. They have consistently stated that safety determines the timeline of certification projects. The grounding of MAX planes worldwide followed two crashes in 2018 and 2019 that resulted in the loss of 346 lives. Both the MAX 7 and the larger MAX 10 model are awaiting FAA certification, with the MAX 10 scheduled for its first delivery in 2024. These models are crucial for Boeing to compete with Airbus in the narrowbody markets.
Watterson noted that the number of open items on certification is converging, indicating progress. Some analysts and industry officials have raised concerns about Southwest’s profitability due to flying larger planes in an already saturated domestic market. However, Watterson disagreed, stating that the airline has a balanced fleet of big and smaller aircraft to match supply and demand.
In conclusion, Southwest Airlines expects the Boeing 737 MAX 7 to receive FAA certification by April, allowing them to start flying the aircraft in late 2024. The airline remains optimistic about the progress being made and has adjusted its plans to account for potential delays. The MAX 7 is seen as a valuable asset for Southwest in managing capacity and meeting passenger demand.
Have a tip we should know? email@example.com