Boeing Commercial Airlines has been approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission to resume deliveries of 737 MAX aircraft to Chinese customers – a clearance that has been anticipated for nearly two years. Even with the approval for Boeing, individual aircraft deliveries reportedly must be cleared by the NDRC.
All 737 MAX deliveries were suspended in March 2019 after a second fatal accident with the aircraft. What followed was 20 months of investigation into the two incidents, and reengineering of the aircraft’s Maneuverability and Control Software, which has proven effective in reestablishing the 737 MAX reliability.
Boeing regained the Federal Aviation Administration’s airworthiness certification for the 737 MAX in December 2020, followed by comparable certifications in Europe, Canada, and elsewhere in the weeks that followed – but it took until December 2021 for the Civil Aviation Administration of China to approve the revamped aircraft.
Two sources now report that early this month a CAAC official advised Boeing that it would be approved to expand its development role in China, and that this indication was followed by the NDRC authorizing the delivery of new 737 MAX jets.
Chinese airlines with 737 MAX jets in their fleets have resumed service with those aircraft, but deliveries of new aircraft to Chinese buyers has been impossible without the approve of the NDRC, central administrative and planning agency for the Chinese economy.
The issue has been a growing problem for Boeing, which 118 undelivered 737 MAX aircraft for Chinese buyers - from which it cannot record revenue. It has been assumed that Chinese officials have been using the deliveries as a trade bargaining chip with the U.S. government.
Boeing’s commercial market forecast for China projects a need for 8,560 new commercial aircraft through 2042, which will require the domestic airlines to more than double the size of the country’s current fleet to almost 9,600 total jets.