David Learmount/LONDON

BOEING HAS WON the first round of a battle to have its new 737 family of aircraft declared as derivatives by the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA). The move will allow the US company to claim "grandfather rights" and avoid having to meet current safety regulations (Flight International, 10-16 May).

The JAA's certification co-ordinator for large aircraft, Abrea Kraan, says: "The position of the JAA is that, although the 737-700 is still in the process of being certificated, we are applying the derivative policy." The -700 has the same fuselage and cabin size as today's -300, but a new wing and uprated engines.

Still under discussion is whether the 737-800 (3m longer than today's largest 737, the -400) can also retain derivative status. Kraan says: "Work is going on to determine to what extent the modifications make it a new aircraft. We have not yet taken a firm position on the aircraft."

JAA acceptance of the -700, however, clears Boeing to argue that the -800 is a larger aircraft in a derivative series.

The JAA is discussing the matter through the International Certification Procedures Task Force, which also consists of representatives from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the major manufacturers. Boeing itself sent a team to Europe to make its final 737 representations to the JAA, following the Paris air show.

The most serious issue, according to the JAA, is the one of exit design and passenger emergency egress. It is highly contentious because Boeing has applied to the FAA and the JAA for a maximum 737-800 passenger capacity of 189, acceptable under the derivative rules, but ten passengers more than the new safety rules permit with the existing 737 exit size and layout. The FAA, meanwhile, has indicated that it will declare the -800 a derivative.

Airbus Industrie is upset at the ruling because its A320 (200mm longer and 192mm wider than the 737-800 and with larger exits) has to be in compliance with the new rules, and is certificated for nine fewer passengers (180). This seating-density differential is appealing to European inclusive-tour charter airlines, five of which have already lined up for new-series 737s. Boeing has admitted that the JAA derivative decision is "very important to us".

A similar disparity also exists between the 737-700 and the new Airbus A319.

Source: Flight International