FAA does not expect to certify Boeing 737 MAX 7 before end of year

The acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Thursday he does not expect the agency will certify the Boeing (BA.N) 737 MAX 7 before a key deadline at the end of the year.

Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said it “does not appear” the 737 MAX 7 will be certified by the end of the year.

Boeing is seeking a waiver from Congress of a December deadline imposing a new safety standard for modern cockpit alerts for the 737 MAX 7 and 737 MAX 10. Nolen said it is his sense the FAA cannot continue any certification work on the airplanes after late December without action from Congress.

Nolen’s comments may put pressure on Congress to act in the coming week on two the variants of the MAX. Boeing did not immediately comment.

Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said last month he is confident the planemaker will get an extension from the U.S. Congress of a key deadline to get the MAX 7 and MAX 10 certified.

After Dec. 27, all planes must have modern cockpit alerting systems to be certified by the FAA, which would mean significant delays for the new MAX aircrafts’ deployment unless Congress grants a waiver to extend the deadline.

Boeing said last month it expects the 737 MAX 7 to be certified this year or in 2023 and the MAX 10 to begin FAA certification flight testing in 2022 or 2023 and enter service in 2023 or 2024.

Earlier this month, Republican Senator Roger Wicker unsuccessfully sought to attach an extension of the MAX deadline to September 2024 to a defense bill. That effort was endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce this week.

The requirements were adopted by Congress as part of certification reform passed after two fatal 737 MAX crashes killed 346 people and led to the bestselling plane’s 20-month grounding.