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China Reportedly Ready to Test 737 MAX

July 11, 2021
The Boeing aircraft is cleared to operate in 170 countries, but review and recertification has yet to begin in the Chinese market.

China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China reportedly is ready to begin the process of recertifying the airworthiness of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft, according to reports, eight months after the Federal Aviation Administration did the same. Neither the Chinese officials nor Boeing has confirmed the development, though Bloomberg News reported Boeing will send a team of pilots and engineers to China to meet with regulators later this month.

The 737 MAX is Boeing’s best-selling aircraft, a twin-engine narrow-body passenger jet. The program was grounded for 18 months – from March 2019 to November 2020 – as a result of two fatal accidents attributed to the flight control software overriding the crews’ actions. The FAA and other air-safety agencies and Boeing halted all deliveries of the aircraft in March 2019, though production of new aircraft continued.

During the period of the grounding Boeing redeveloping the 737 MAX Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), the flight control software, in coordination with the FAA. Beginning in June 2020, the new MCAS was tested separately by FAA, the European Air Safety Agency, and Transport Canada inspectors, and FAA (frequently emphasizing it was coordinating its actions with the other safety agencies) issued guidelines for U.S. carriers to update their aircraft and train their crews last November.

Other safety agencies followed FAA, and the 737 MAX is now cleared to operate in 170 countries.

Boeing has resumed deliveries of the aircraft and recorded several hundred new orders, but the clearance to operate in China (where several dozen 737 MAX jets have been delivered and more are on order) has been delayed – reportedly for political reasons. Bloomberg reported Chinese regulators have concerns design changes to the aircraft, new pilot training, as well as about the causes of the two crashes.

The U.S. and China have not held trade negotiations since the change in presidential administrations in January, in June Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the U.S. has had discussions with China to clear the 737 MAX to resume operations there.

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