Boeing Co.’s largest 737 Max variant was given so-called type-inspection authorization by the Federal Aviation Administration that clears the path for the next phase of flight testing for the long-delayed model.
The authorization for the 737 Max 10, which will can seat as many as 230 people, gives FAA test pilots access to test flights, after more than 400 flights performed by Boeing, according to memo to employees.
Boeing has won almost 1,000 orders for the variant, which aims to position the company in an increasingly competitive segment at the most capacious end of single-aisle aircraft.
The model competes with Airbus SE’s A321neo model that’s racked up thousands of orders and is now the most popular type in the Airbus A320 range as customer turn to bigger jetliners.
The Max 10 first rolled out of the factory in 2019, the final one of the different variants of the Max family to do so.
The grounding of the Max fleet in the wake of two fatal crashes delayed certification, and Boeing only performed the maiden flight of the Max 10 in the middle of 2021.
Certification is planned for 2024, according to Boeing, which said it will “follow the lead of the FAA” as it works through the process.
Boeing rose as much as 1.5% following the FAA update as investors greeted the progress on the delayed program. The stock has gained 15% in value this year.
Airbus, based on Toulouse in southern France, has advanced 21% in the same period.
The Airbus A321neo gained its overwhelming sales lead because its longer range offered airlines a cheaper alternative to widebody aircraft that traditionally cruised across the North Atlantic ocean.
But for shorter routes like Boston to Los Angeles, the Max 10 competes head-to-head with the Airbus model, according to an analysis by AirInsight Group.