MIAMI – Chinese officials have made an opening for the return of the Boeing 737 MAX to Chinese skies but no details are available as to when this will happen.
Before the two accidents that finally grounded the MAX in March 2019, Chinese airlines, namely Air China (CA), China Eastern (MU), China Southern (CZ), Hainan Airlines (HU), XiamenAir (MF), Shenzhen Airlines (ZH), and Shandong Airlines (SC) were flying a total of 97 aircraft split between Boeing 737-8s and -9s.
China was the first country to ban the Boeing 737 MAX from its skies. The country remains among the last to re-authorize the type’s return.
Zero Tolerance for Safet Hazard
Following the modifications carried out on the MCAS anti-stall system, the MAX may soon resume test flights and obtain a Chinese re-certification, an action already taken by most of the countries where the aircraft is present. However, we can recall that last November, the Chinese Civil Authority (CAAC) said that they had “zero tolerance for any safety hazard.”
Bloomberg has published that a large number of Boeing engineers and technicians could soon be sent to China to participate in the re-certification test flights but no details are yet available on how and when these would take place. It is however a common opinion that it would take several more months before commercial flights are resumed.
The type’s return is also dependent on the ongoing trade war between the US and China. The 737 return to service in the Asian country could very easily become a bargaining chip in the negotiations, particularly those concerning the aviation sector, a strategic one for both sides.
Boeing counts on the return of the MAX in the Chinese skies as a source of revenue needed to repay the huge costs – approximately US$64bn – the company has had to face in the past two years and because of the worldwide grounding of the aircraft. Boeing has also pointed out that a prolonged absence of the MAX in China could be the cause of “Boeing’s loss of its global leadership.”
Featured image: China Southern Boeing 737 MAX 8 N1784B. Photo: Nick Sheeder/Airways