MIAMI – The stakes are high for Boeing as an “enhanced” 737 MAX began its flight to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport (PVG) Wednesday. The plane departed Boeing Field (BFI) near Seattle at 8:17 a.m. local time. It landed at John Rodgers Field (JRF) outside Honolulu about 5.5 hours later.

The type is flying to China to conduct recertification testing on the type. The test aircraft is taking a southern route to China as the plane is not certified to fly over Russia. The plane also does not have the range to fly nonstop to Shanghai.

According to Reuters, the plane should arrive in China on August 7, ahead of a simulator test on August 8, and if all goes well, a first flight test will take place in China on the 11th.

A Boeing spokesperson said, “Boeing continues to work with global regulators as they complete their validation processes in order to better understand enhancements to the airplane.”

Boeing 737MAX 7. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways

Comeback after Crisis

Reuters reports that about 30 airlines and 175 countries now allow flights via the Boeing 737 MAX. This follows a nearly two-year safety ban after two crashes that killed 346 people. The events sent Boeing into a financial crisis that was compounded by the global coronavirus pandemic.

According to Bloomberg, Boeing sent a delegation of approximately 35 pilots and engineers to China last month to meet with regulators and prepare for simulator and flight testing. Boeing has not recently logged a major jet order from China, mostly because of a tariff rift with Washington.

The resumption of MAX deliveries to China would likely bolster Boeing’s plans to speed production of the type and hasten the company’s financial recovery.

Featured image: Boeing 737MAX 7. Photo: Brandon Farris/Airways