Boeing 737 MAX sees hope of returning in China
Published: Nov 13, 2021 10:28 PM
A Boeing 737 MAX jet lands following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington on June 29. Photo: VCG

A Boeing 737 MAX jet lands following Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington. Photo: VCG

China's civil aviation regulator is offering a slight of hope for the Boeing 737 MAX's chances of being back in the skies after being grounded for over 32 months, as latest filing shows that the manufacturer is working to meet the technical requirements mandated by Chinese regulators.   

An announcement seen by the Global Times said that in order to address unsafe conditions relating to the 737-8 aircraft Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System within the 737 MAX family, Boeing has initiated design changes to the flight control system software and display system software.

After a comprehensive assessment by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), it was confirmed that the relevant corrective measures can eliminate the above unsafe conditions.

The filing means that the principals required by the CAAC have been basically met, and Boeing can be allowed to enter the technical procedures of airworthiness certification, Qi Qi, an industry observer told the Global Times on Saturday, 

"Boeing can be allowed to seek for a formal return later," he said. 

China, the first country to ground the 737 MAX in the world after two fatal accidents, has maintained that for the 737 MAX to resume commercial services, aircraft modifications must be approved for airworthiness, and pilots must be fully retrained to fly the model. It also demanded that the findings of investigations into the two fatal accidents must be made available and the defects, which caused the incidents, must be addressed.

It is a substantial progress of the 737 MAX's return to China, but it only means it gets the "admission ticket," there is still a gap between entering the "exam" and passing the "exam," Qi said, adding that even if Boeing passed the exam, it will take time for airlines to modify aircraft and train pilots. 

The file sets a deadline of November 26 to collect feedback or comment. 

Boeing remains hopeful that the737 MAX will return to service in China before the end of this year, but the ultimate decision is in the hands of the regulator, Richard Wynne, managing director of China marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told the Global Times in September.

Reuters reported on August 4 that a Boeing Co 737 Max jet departed for China to conduct a flight test as part of its attempt to gain approval within the vital travel market.

Currently, there are 97 737-8 jets in China with all grounded.