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Boeing 777X May Not Get OK'd Until 2023: FAA

Boeing says the jet would be the world’s 'largest and most efficient' twin-engine aircraft, but an FAA letter throws its approval process into uncertainty.
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Boeing's  (BA) - Get Boeing Company Report upcoming, fuel-efficient 777X aircraft may be years away from getting a key federal OK, according to a letter recently made public by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The FAA will not approve any aircraft unless it meets our safety and certification standards," said the agency in a statement released on Sunday. 

Stalling the release of the aerospace giant's new, huge and high-tech aircraft could prove another blow to Boeing, following the years' long saga of its 737 MAX aircraft that was grounded following two fatal crashes. The 777X has long been touted by Boeing as the world’s "largest and most efficient" twin-engine jet.

The FAA sent a letter last month that noted approval of the aircraft was likely years away. 

"Based on the information from Boeing, the Model 777-9 Amended Type Certification (ATC) date is realistically going to be mid to late 2023," reads the letter, which was obtained by TheStreet, and was earlier reported on by Reuters

A company statement on Sunday said that Boeing remains "fully focused on safety as our highest priority throughout 777X development" and implied that it wasn't expecting to have the aircraft online until around 2023 anyway.

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The company added that it is "working through a rigorous development process to ensure we meet all applicable requirements. We continue to communicate transparently with the FAA and other global regulators about 777-9 certification."

The aerospace giant had been advertising the 777X as a new offering in its advanced aircraft menu. The jet would use less fuel and give out fewer emissions -- and be cheaper to operate -- than competing aircraft, says the company that boasts the aircraft as offering "low-risk, profitable growth, industry-leading reliability and seamless integration" with its 777 and 787 Dreamliner offerings.

But the May 13 letter from the FAA gave a list of reasons - including a lack of data and pushed-back deadlines - for not authorizing what's known as a type inspection authorization, or TIA.

"The FAA and Boeing have been discussing the TIA readiness of the Boeing Model 777-9 in numerous meetings over the past nine months. Based on our assessment, the FAA considers that the aircraft is not yet ready for TIA, even if it is a phased TIA of limited scope with a small number of certification flight test plans (CFTPs) proposed. 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."

Earlier, in 2018 and 2019, Boeing's other new jet, the 737 MAX aircraft, suffered two fatal crashes, one of a 737 MAX Ethiopian Airlines flight and another of Lion Air flight that crashed over Indonesia. Thosel crashes led to the years' long grounding of the aircraft. 

Boeing had closed down to $248.38 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

This story has been updated.