Boeing Still Upbeat On 737-7 BBJ Approval

Credit: Brett Schauf/ShowNews

ORLANDO—Boeing remains optimistic that the 737-7 MAX variant will be certificated to enable the company’s Boeing Business Jet unit to offer a short-body version of the bizliner.

The initial 737-8-based Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) variant has entered service and the first 737-9 BBJ is one of two MAX-family corporate versions set to be delivered later this month. Boeing does not intend to offer a BBJ version of the yet-to-be-certified 737-10.

“We've had a lot of continued interest in the MAX 7,” says BBJ President Erika Pearson. “We continue to work transparently with the FAA for certification, and we are still anticipating the MAX 7 will enter into service in 2023. So, we're looking forward to that.”

Boeing is racing to meet a Dec. 22 deadline set by the U.S. Congress to get the 737-7 and 737-10 certified with FAA-granted exemptions from some current flight crew alerting requirements. A 2020 law gave Boeing two years to wrap up certification work on the last two MAX-family variants, but a series of issues and renewed FAA scrutiny on certification procedures and practices have slowed progress toward authorization. 

Asked what effect the deadline might have on Boeing’s delivery plans for the 737-7 BBJ, Pearson adds: “I’ll have to defer to Congress on that.”

Although the 737-7 BBJ version will offer around 150 nm of added range than the larger 737-8 derivative, company sources say the model is attracting wider interest from international government customers because it will have a smaller footprint and more subtle ramp presence.

Pearson says North America meanwhile remains the most important market for the BBJ. "The first BBJ MAX was delivered to a North American customer and the first BBJ MAX that entered into service after completion was also to a North American customer. One of the two MAXs that we will be delivering later this month will also go to a North American customer," she says.

Guy Norris

Guy is a Senior Editor for Aviation Week, covering technology and propulsion. He is based in Colorado Springs.