A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, USA June 29, 2020.
Karen Ducey | Reuters
boeing co. is on track for a milestone order from Delta Air Lines for up to 100 of its 737 MAX 10 jets, a model it is in separate talks for approval before the rules change at the end of the year, according to people in the know. with the issue.
The deal, if confirmed, would be Delta’s first order for Boeing’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft family, and Boeing’s first major order for the airline in a decade.
It comes as Delta — the only major U.S. carrier without a 737 MAX on order — reforms its fleet in anticipation of a rapid recovery from the pandemic.
Boeing and Delta, which have had a strained relationship in recent years, are working on details of an order that could include 100 aircraft, many or all of which could be its largest variant, the 737 MAX 10, two people said. .
If a deal is reached, an announcement could come next month, one of the people added.
Boeing and Delta declined to comment.
Industry sources warned that negotiations typically go to extremes and no final decision has been made. There has been speculation in the past about a MAX order from Delta, with no deal coming.
The MAX 10 competes with Airbus’ best-selling model, the A321neo. Both aircraft are aimed at the fast-growing market segment just above 200 seats.
The A321neo, which leasing company Air Lease described on Wednesday as the “hottest aircraft on the market”, has a commanding lead in sales, but Boeing has had a string of contract wins over the past year.
Airbus also declined to comment.
In September, Airline Weekly quoted Delta CEO Ed Bastian as saying there was a place for the MAX at Delta if the airline could figure out how to land them.
Asked about the MAX in London earlier this month, he told reporters that Delta always looked at all aircraft models.
For Boeing, which is anchored in broader certification and industry headaches, the deal would cement a key new customer for its cash-cow narrowbody.
The aircraft maker faces a separate but increasingly tough battle to win certification of the MAX 10 before a new safety standard for cockpit warnings goes into effect at the end of the year.
The deadline for changes was introduced as part of wider regulatory reforms at the Federal Aviation Administration following fatal crashes of a smaller MAX model in 2018 and 2019.
Boeing has spoken with some lawmakers about the possibility of requesting more time, but has not formally requested an extension to address an issue in the cockpit, the people said.
Asked about the possibility, an FAA spokesperson said, “safety dictates the timeline of certification projects.”
Only Congress can extend the deadline if the FAA does not certify the MAX before the end of the year.
Boeing has raised the potential impact on jobs and production with some lawmakers if the 737 MAX 10 is not approved, the people said.
“We continue to work transparently with the FAA to provide the information they need, and we are committed to meeting their expectations to achieve 737-10 certification,” Boeing said in an emailed statement.
It did not directly comment on any talks with lawmakers, but said the plane would support “tens of thousands of jobs at Boeing and across our supply chain, including in Washington state.”
The issue is also likely to get tangled up in the next FAA administrator’s confirmation hearings. Current FAA administrator Steve Dickson will resign on March 31.
The Seattle Times this month cited a previous Boeing submission to the FAA that put the estimated cost of full compliance for the MAX at “more than $10 billion.”
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