The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) formally denied Boeing permission to move forward with a key step in certifying its new 777X giant widebody airplane.
In a letter dated May 13, the FAA said the jet maker may have to increase the number of test flights planned. “The aircraft is not yet ready for Type Inspection Authorization (TIA),” reports said citing the FAA. The letter was signed by letter signed by Ian Won, manager of the local FAA office.
Among other things, the agency was particularly concerned about a serious flight control incident during a test flight on December 8, 2020. The aircraft experienced an “uncommanded pitch event” — meaning the nose of the aircraft pitched abruptly up or down without input from the pilots, The Seattle Times reported.
The company was also told that that a critical avionics system proposed for the airplane does not meet requirements.
Won told expressed concern about proposed modifications involving late changes to both software and hardware in the electronics of the jet’s flight controls.
“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 warned Boeing that it “realistically” will not certify the airplane until mid to late 2023.
The 777X is a new version of Boeing’s popular 777 aircraft. It will be the first major jet to be certified since software flaws in Boeing 737 MAX planes caused two fatal crashes in 2018-2019, and prompted accusations of cozy relations between the company and FAA.