Uh Oh: Boeing 777X Facing Certification Issues

Uh Oh: Boeing 777X Facing Certification Issues

40

This is very bad news for Boeing, and for airlines, and for consumers who have been looking forward to the new cabins some airlines were going to introduce on the 777X.

Basics of the Boeing 777X

For those of you not familiar, the Boeing 777X is Boeing’s newest version of the 777. It will come in two variants — the 777-8 and 777-9 — and the planes are both longer range and larger than existing 777s (and larger than 787s, which are also popular).

With there clearly not being a market anymore for planes like the A380 and 747-8 (even pre-pandemic), this will likely be the biggest new aircraft we see manufactured in the next decade. The plane is already a few years late — deliveries were originally supposed to start in 2020, but have already been delayed until 2023 at the earliest. Now the situation has become even worse.

The Boeing 777-9

Boeing 777X has “serious flight test incident”

Dominic Gates at The Seattle Times reports on major new concerns with the Boeing 777X, which are now realistically pushing certification of the plane out to late 2023, meaning deliveries will now start in 2024 at the earliest.

On May 13, 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sent a letter to Boeing stating that the number of test flights planned for the 777X may have to increase, as the plane is realistically more than two years from being certified.

The FAA cited a long list of concerns, the most significant of which involved a December 8, 2020, test flight. During this, the plane experienced an “uncommanded pitch event,” meaning the nose of the aircraft pitched upward or downward without input from the pilots.

The FAA is under increased scrutiny following the 737 MAX fiasco, where the organization was accused of being too cozy with Boeing. You can bet that the FAA will be much more diligent this time around, especially when the plane apparently had a “pitch event” during a test flight, which sounds mighty similar to what happened to the 737 MAX.

The letter states that “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.”

An unnamed FAA source is also quoted, who states that “there’s a general feeling that Boeing has kind of lost a step,” referring to Boeing’s reputation for excellence in the past, and that “the days of Boeing being able to say to the FAA ‘just trust us’ are long gone.”

Lots of airlines are counting on the Boeing 777X

This doesn’t sound good…

Specific to the 777X, it sounds like we now shouldn’t expect the first delivery of this plane until 2024, and that’s best case scenario. That’s pretty terrible when you consider that in 2019 the plan was for the first plane to be delivered in 2020. Suffering a four year delay in a bit over a year is… not great.

I’d expect the FAA to be extra diligent with the 777X following the 737 MAX issues, especially with an alleged pitch incident on a test flight late last year.

It really is unfortunate how Boeing’s reputation has deteriorated in the past few years. It’s not just the 737 MAX issue as such, but everything about the company’s corporate culture that came out following that. Now there are 777X issues.

And that doesn’t even account for Boeing’s product lineup hardly being competitive anymore. Airbus is on track to have the A321XLR flying by 2023, and Boeing doesn’t even have a competitor to that.

While the 777X delays are on the surface bad for airlines, I wonder if these continued delays might give some airlines an easy way to cancel their orders, given how the industry has changed. Boeing has already seen a significant number of 777X order cancelations and deferrals.

Lufthansa’s new business class was supposed to launch on the 777X

Bottom line

The Boeing 777X is allegedly having several problems with its certification, not the least of which is a pitch incident that occurred on a test flight in late 2020. We should expect it to be well over two years before the plane is certified, and that means that at this point the plane won’t enter service before early 2024 at the earliest.

What do you make of these latest Boeing 777X issues?

Conversations (40)
Newest comments are displayed first.

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. TravelinWilly

    "If it's not Boeing I'm not going" said lots of people 20+ years ago.

    Now it's more "If it's a Boeing I'm not going."

    How the mighty fall.

  2. Michael Cooper

    It's clear from the fact that Boeing has tried to ech out a fourth generation of the 737 in the Max (itself based on the 707) that it is being controlled by bean counters looking for short term financial gain. Its lack of investment in a new Narrowbody has left it using rehashed old designs that need a lot of computer input to make them fly properly and which do not have the capability meet...

    It's clear from the fact that Boeing has tried to ech out a fourth generation of the 737 in the Max (itself based on the 707) that it is being controlled by bean counters looking for short term financial gain. Its lack of investment in a new Narrowbody has left it using rehashed old designs that need a lot of computer input to make them fly properly and which do not have the capability meet all current market segments. Why did they not set about designing a completely new Narrowbody based on a design that could cover 150 to 275 seats (737-700 to 757-300). Its such a shame to see the Boeing name tarnished by a lack of proper investment in new products that are fit for the 2020s and beyond.

  3. Frederik

    Somebody please answer this, how could Boeing in the 1970s and early 1980s develop both the 757 and 767 almost simultaneously not long after the 747 model, and yet now they struggle even updating old models?

    And why if so cautious about an expensive new 321LXR size competitor failing, not even the attempt at a 757X edition with updated wings and engines at a good price point. Seriously where is the vision, or could...

    Somebody please answer this, how could Boeing in the 1970s and early 1980s develop both the 757 and 767 almost simultaneously not long after the 747 model, and yet now they struggle even updating old models?

    And why if so cautious about an expensive new 321LXR size competitor failing, not even the attempt at a 757X edition with updated wings and engines at a good price point. Seriously where is the vision, or could this be the exact problem, with no other domestic competitor. Does it cause a company to fail to innovate effectively? Maybe the McDonnell Douglas Boeing merger was a mistake in terms of North American aviation. As all the eggs are now completely in the Boeing basket, but I really would love to see some more of the vision of 1970s and 1980s Boeing back again.

  4. stogieguy7

    Boeing is a prime example of what can happen to a large corporation when it's C-suite goes from being passionate about the product to being passionate about the bottom line and little else. The focus at Boeing shifted from excellence to financial performance, which requires lots of production. They shifted that production to facilities that are cheaper to run and which are also lacking in quality control due to rapid production being the priority.

    This...

    Boeing is a prime example of what can happen to a large corporation when it's C-suite goes from being passionate about the product to being passionate about the bottom line and little else. The focus at Boeing shifted from excellence to financial performance, which requires lots of production. They shifted that production to facilities that are cheaper to run and which are also lacking in quality control due to rapid production being the priority.

    This rot at Boeing actually started with the 787 series (which had a number of production issues) and it grew into the MAX debacle. It hasn't gone away by a long shot, which is why we now see the 777-X series having issues. The entire management team at Boeing needs to be fired (without parachutes) and replaced with capable people who actually give a damn about flight. But, sadly this isn't going to happen because you have Wall Street liking the profits and the US Government rewarding this crappy performance with billions of dollars in defense contracts.

  5. Eric Grau

    This is really unfortunate for Boeing. However, I'm not surprised. Look at the KC-46, another unfortunate case for Boeing, the USAF and the tax payer.

  6. Christopher

    I think it's interesting how Boeing got the strategy right (point to point with the 787) but messed up the execution (batteries etc. on the 787, then the 737 MAX crashes and now the 777x delays), whereas Airbus did the opposite, they got the strategy wrong (hub to hub with the A380) but delivered on the execution (the A350).

  7. tellucas

    Agreed The MD takeover of Boeing was the start of their decline, but I think they also let the costumers push them into doing things to cut costs instead of building a good product and hanging a fair price tag on it. When keeping a plane 15-25 yrs the operating costs and not the lower purchase price is what counts.

  8. Wayne Arrington

    Every program that McBoeing has going in the commercial airplane side has problems: 737 enough said, 787 can't put them together right, 777x uncommanded pitch event on a test flight redolent of the 737 problems. KC46 is a non-performing drag on the financials....The space program is just scary if you are prospective crew. No midmarket answer to the A321XLR. McBoeing will be the new Chrysler bailout in a few years.

  9. Ken

    Boeing is doomed! 737 Max, KC-46, 777X, 787, Starliner, SLS. Everyone they touch turns into failures.

  10. Steve

    No one should be surprised…when the bean counters from McDonnell-Douglas were allowed free reign over Boeing post-merger, this was inevitable. Boeing can’t deliver ANYTHING on time anymore…both commercial and military.

  11. seat1Cnew

    Sorry to hear this, but they really do need to design some new aircraft. Travelling on a 737 feels a horribly claustrophobic experience compared with an A320 series even before you consider the perceived risk of flying on a Boeing. I actively try to choose flights on Airbus wherever possible.

    (And Boeing do this with all their US government subsidy...)

  12. Azamaraal

    Airbus is still essentially a European government funded "private enterprise". The loss they took on the A380 would have crippled a private company.

    That Boeing is struggling is obvious and if they have had any luck at all it was bad luck.

    My golf course is just below the flight path and it is still impressive to see the Westjet, Flair and AC MAX 8's landing overhead. Glad to see them back.

  13. Phil Squares

    According to the piece written as "news", you state the incident was like the pitch problems with the 737 Max. I hate to break your bubble but the comparison is way off the mark. The 777-X is FBW (fly by wire), the entire 737 family is cables and pullies! Not even close.

    If you are going to write about technical issues, do a little research first.

  14. Scot

    Matt….you fail to recognize that this was “in your words” a test flight. Test pilot’s mission is to ferret out any challenges and to optimize the aircraft.

  15. Schar

    Why have you ignored and not posted about the incidents at LAX where someone invaded a runway, and another person opened the cabin door and slid down the slide?? So much crazy news w crazy passengers and you haven’t posted about any of that? I even tagged u on twitter multiple times and no response? Your readers want to be informed of these crazy things happening!

    1. MC-LAX

      Because those incidents are not interesting to Ben and the typical premium flyer. What possibly could he add to these stories?

  16. Dwight Lilly

    I worked for Boeing when Mcdonal Douglas leadership took over, it was a disaster from day 1. Then the move away from an engineer driven company to the new Chicago headquarters and bean counters in charge. Frankly, I don't believe they have the leadership or culture to turn out excellent-safe aircraft. You can only livr off past reputation for so long, trust has been lost and will take decades to be reestablished.

  17. anton verhulst

    It's really sad to see a once great company become second rate. I agree that the start of the decline was the MD merger. I admit that after airline deregulation, some bean counting was needed but... really. And, moving headquarters away from engineering to Chicago? What were they thinking?

  18. Barry

    Seems like right across the aircraft industry cost cutting is happening. The industries cannot now employ skilled workers as there arnt any. Instead they want to introduce SOPs standard operating instructions that the guy working in flipping burgers can now follow.... Really... Wait for more plane crashes

  19. Sam Sather

    McDonnell executive leadership is killing its second aircraft manufacturer.

    1980s/90s MBA mentality is proven to be bullshit once again. You can't cut cost and lean your way to prosperity, bodies are not bodies - you need experience, good product is paramount.

  20. Tom

    Guessing big bonuses/golden parachutes were paid to the new management teams for destroying the company, whose safety reputation had been unblemished. And it is not just civilian aircraft suffering. Military aircraft too, right down to low standard cheapo labor leaving scraps, litter,and tools in supposedly "finished" planes.
    They had multi generational skilled labor that they abandoned in Seattle.
    Great moves guys.

  21. Mark Davidson

    As only a casual observer of the aircraft industry, my take is that Boeing pivoted from being engineering driven company to a sales and cost cutting driven company in the 90s.
    While this is common in so much of what passes for innovative "management" today, this is a tragic error for a business where these decisions actually cost lives.
    The evidence for this is clear in their move of their headquarters from Seattle...

    As only a casual observer of the aircraft industry, my take is that Boeing pivoted from being engineering driven company to a sales and cost cutting driven company in the 90s.
    While this is common in so much of what passes for innovative "management" today, this is a tragic error for a business where these decisions actually cost lives.
    The evidence for this is clear in their move of their headquarters from Seattle to Chicago and also their establishment of assembly facilities in low-cost, South Carolina. Acquisition of McDonnel-Douglas gave them a large facility in low-cost Missouri.
    Yes, costs are an issue. However when safety and engineering priorities are secondary to the profit motive the business model will not survive.

    1. Robert W

      It was in the 90s that McDonald Douglass' purchase of Boeing was completed. That is when the downfall started. I worked in Commercial Airplanes Flight Controls on the 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787. Prior to becoming McD, we used to joke that the left hand didn't know there was a right hand; after the transition, the left didn't know there was a right hand. I retired early because the 787 Dreamliner program was...

      It was in the 90s that McDonald Douglass' purchase of Boeing was completed. That is when the downfall started. I worked in Commercial Airplanes Flight Controls on the 737, 747, 757, 767, 777 and 787. Prior to becoming McD, we used to joke that the left hand didn't know there was a right hand; after the transition, the left didn't know there was a right hand. I retired early because the 787 Dreamliner program was a complete mess, there was no one working there that had ever designed and tested an actual airplane.

  22. 02nz

    Amazing how Boeing / Airbus fortunes have reversed so quickly. Not so long ago, Airbus had an uncompetitive A340, an A380 that only one customer really wanted. Meanwhile, Boeing was looking like a genius for going after long/thin routes with the 787, and the 777 was incredibly successful. Then came the 737 Max crisis, 777X delays, and production issues, while Airbus is enjoying great success with the A320neo and A350. And now Airbus is looking...

    Amazing how Boeing / Airbus fortunes have reversed so quickly. Not so long ago, Airbus had an uncompetitive A340, an A380 that only one customer really wanted. Meanwhile, Boeing was looking like a genius for going after long/thin routes with the 787, and the 777 was incredibly successful. Then came the 737 Max crisis, 777X delays, and production issues, while Airbus is enjoying great success with the A320neo and A350. And now Airbus is looking like a genius for going after long/thin routes with the A321LR.

  23. Mike Oxmaul

    Back in the day when Boeing had world class engineers (before they all retired) that used slide rules, adding machines, and photoelasticity before the computer came around, and put thousands of man hours in design and testing, took pride in their work. I don't think that's the case today. They have fewer engineers, that do the majority of everything in design and flight avionics on a supercomputer.
    Why double check when you have a...

    Back in the day when Boeing had world class engineers (before they all retired) that used slide rules, adding machines, and photoelasticity before the computer came around, and put thousands of man hours in design and testing, took pride in their work. I don't think that's the case today. They have fewer engineers, that do the majority of everything in design and flight avionics on a supercomputer.
    Why double check when you have a supercomputer do it for you.., and even faster.
    Computers do make mistakes..., especially when it comes to human input.
    I really don't have a dog in the general aviation competition, however I do follow very closely the space programs of Space X and Boeing, and Boeing is really the substandard of the two.
    Look at all the issues with the Starliner, and how delayed it's been because of Avionics issues and quality control.
    Just saying...I sure wouldn't want to be the 1st crew on that flight.
    As Engineers go...., They are all flocking to space X. They all want to be working on that bleeding edge tech, and not be hamstrung by stockholders and general corporate culture.

  24. Quo Vadis?

    Formerly one of the USA's leading engineering and manufacturing companies, Boeing is now a hot, giant mess. Boeing basically has two sides, commercial and military/government. The commercial side was obviously rocked by the crashes, subsequent lengthy grounding and production halt of the 737 MAX. Unlike Airbus which has a thriving order book for the newer A320 neo aircraft family and also the modern A220 series acquired from Bombardier, the 737 MAX is Boeing's (out)dated and...

    Formerly one of the USA's leading engineering and manufacturing companies, Boeing is now a hot, giant mess. Boeing basically has two sides, commercial and military/government. The commercial side was obviously rocked by the crashes, subsequent lengthy grounding and production halt of the 737 MAX. Unlike Airbus which has a thriving order book for the newer A320 neo aircraft family and also the modern A220 series acquired from Bombardier, the 737 MAX is Boeing's (out)dated and only entrant in the single aisle market. The 747, 757, and 767 passenger variants are long gone, leaving the twin-aisle 777 and 787 series which have far less demand with Covid-related quarantines all over the world.

    The military side has big problems of its own, with the KC-46 (767-derived) tanker project suffering design flaws and billion-dollar losses under the fixed-price contract. Boeing also has a fixed-price contract (in partnership with Saab) for a new USAF jet trainer, but this too, is encountering issues/delays.

    Does anyone else see a problem/pattern?

    1. jedipenguin

      US Air Force should just European built tankers and trainers.

  25. Tim Dunn

    The B777X is needed because the B787 is too small; as it does with just about every model, Airbus waited until Boeing designed the 787 and then designed its own response, the A350, which is larger and more capable than the B787. The A350-1000 competes with the smaller version of the B777X. In order to get the seat mile costs down for the B777X since it is not a lighter composite aircraft like the B787...

    The B777X is needed because the B787 is too small; as it does with just about every model, Airbus waited until Boeing designed the 787 and then designed its own response, the A350, which is larger and more capable than the B787. The A350-1000 competes with the smaller version of the B777X. In order to get the seat mile costs down for the B777X since it is not a lighter composite aircraft like the B787 and A350, Boeing had to make the B777X bigger and the economics really only work for the largest version which is just too large for most airlines.
    The Middle East airlines were the largest purchasers of very large aircraft pre-covid and they are facing a changed international market and legacy global carriers that are not willing to cede traffic to the Middle East carriers as they did in the past.
    While the engineering problems at Boeing are hard to watch, the entire global longhaul market is in an upheaval right now. The B777X is not a cheap program for Boeing but it is far better overall for airlines to have the program delayed than to buy hundreds of jets that just won't work in the new or changed global marketplace.

  26. Adil

    If I remember correctly, Emirates reduced its order of 150 by 15-20% citing delays and swapping them for 787s.

    I wonder what further delays - if any - in 2022 and 2023 will do to Boeing's order book? One big domino falls and.......

  27. Barry

    The America can proudly declare that they are the capitalist first and the nationalist second. So let look at other cost effective and technically advanced eastern countries for the expensive aviation aircraft design, development and manufacturing. The USA R&D and manufacturing costs are very high. I think Wall Street cares more about the short term profits!!!

  28. Endre

    Is it too late for Boeing to pull the plug on the 777X and focus on creating a 787 Next Gen instead?

    1. jcil

      What makes you think they could complete a 787 Next Gen program instead of the 777X? Boeing at one one point in time was arguably the finest engineering company in the world, but unfortunately that is not the case now. I agree with those who suggest that Boeing will never product another new aircraft model (the 787 is the last), but will instead milk the 737 and 787 for as long as they can and...

      What makes you think they could complete a 787 Next Gen program instead of the 777X? Boeing at one one point in time was arguably the finest engineering company in the world, but unfortunately that is not the case now. I agree with those who suggest that Boeing will never product another new aircraft model (the 787 is the last), but will instead milk the 737 and 787 for as long as they can and then exit the commercial aircraft market to become a pure defense contractor instead. Very sad state of affairs.

    2. jedipenguin

      Will Americans accept a Chinese built airliner? A Airbus monopoly is not healthy.

    3. Pierre

      The 737 is BEYOND any further milking. The last one was already a catastrophy and the basic design, unchanged which is why it is still called the 737, is over 60 years old.

      There is a risk that Boeing, faced with massive layoffs, will become a subcontractor for Airbus, then Airbus will have a monopoly and then things will begin to go wrong there too. It's a Law of Nature.

  29. Eric

    Also, Boeing's efforts and investment in low and zero carbon pollution aircraft are many years behind and much smaller than Airbus.

    Market forces favoring less impactful aviation will get substantially stronger in the coming years.

    Boeing leadership's failure to understand and invest is unfortunate given the company's history as an aviation leader.

  30. RaflW

    Boeing's focus on quarterly dividends and stock buybacks now coming home to roost. A company that fails to innovate effectively and that can't sustain a long range vision will deteriorate.
    It's sad, because Boeing used to be a powerful engineering company. Now that it's been thoroughly Wall Streeted, they can't produce the products that would sustain earnings and growth for the future.
    Airbus will continue to lead, and that has as much to...

    Boeing's focus on quarterly dividends and stock buybacks now coming home to roost. A company that fails to innovate effectively and that can't sustain a long range vision will deteriorate.
    It's sad, because Boeing used to be a powerful engineering company. Now that it's been thoroughly Wall Streeted, they can't produce the products that would sustain earnings and growth for the future.
    Airbus will continue to lead, and that has as much to do with Boeing execs and board, as what happens in Toulouse.

    1. EC2

      Boeing ceased paying a dividend in 2020.

    2. Mike Oxmaul

      That is because... in 2019..., they launched a faulty Starliner,
      so NASA said...., yeaaaah, we ain't giving you no more money for the program testing.
      So Boeing had to do it on it's own dime & time,
      with spaceX leap & bounds ahead they had no choice,
      so they basically used that divi money for the certification of the starliner that will be launching here in july.

  31. RF

    Boeing needs to fire their leadership. Move the headquarters back to Seattle and put the engineers in charge.

Featured Comments Load all 40 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Mike Oxmaul

Back in the day when Boeing had world class engineers (before they all retired) that used slide rules, adding machines, and photoelasticity before the computer came around, and put thousands of man hours in design and testing, took pride in their work. I don't think that's the case today. They have fewer engineers, that do the majority of everything in design and flight avionics on a supercomputer. Why double check when you have a supercomputer do it for you.., and even faster. Computers do make mistakes..., especially when it comes to human input. I really don't have a dog in the general aviation competition, however I do follow very closely the space programs of Space X and Boeing, and Boeing is really the substandard of the two. Look at all the issues with the Starliner, and how delayed it's been because of Avionics issues and quality control. Just saying...I sure wouldn't want to be the 1st crew on that flight. As Engineers go...., They are all flocking to space X. They all want to be working on that bleeding edge tech, and not be hamstrung by stockholders and general corporate culture.

RF

Boeing needs to fire their leadership. Move the headquarters back to Seattle and put the engineers in charge.

02nz

Amazing how Boeing / Airbus fortunes have reversed so quickly. Not so long ago, Airbus had an uncompetitive A340, an A380 that only one customer really wanted. Meanwhile, Boeing was looking like a genius for going after long/thin routes with the 787, and the 777 was incredibly successful. Then came the 737 Max crisis, 777X delays, and production issues, while Airbus is enjoying great success with the A320neo and A350. And now Airbus is looking like a genius for going after long/thin routes with the A321LR.

Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,523,713 Miles Traveled

25,807,500 Words Written

28,675 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT