Boeing 737 MAX tests its wings in China after an extended ban

Aug 11, 2021: A Boeing 737 Max test aircraft took to the skies in China as the US manufacturer seeks to end nearly two-and-a-half-year regulatory grounding of the model in a major travel market.

Flight tracking website Flightradar24 showed a 737 MAX 7 test aircraft from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport at 9:24 a.m. Wednesday (01:24 GMT), with no destination listed, flying southeast.

Tracking of the flight was incomplete, but photos on Chinese aviation blogs show it landed at Zhoushan Potushan Airport, 150 kilometers (93 miles) south, according to industry sources.

Boeing’s 737 Max has a completion plant in Zhoushan which is equipped to paint airline liveries and install interiors.

The 737 Max test plane left Seattle last week and arrived in Shanghai on August 7 after refueling in Honolulu and Guam. It was reported last week that its first test flight was scheduled for August 11 in China if all went well.

Boeing said it is continuing to work with global regulators as it completes its verification process on the model, and declined to comment on the test flight, especially in China.

Following flight testing, the Chinese regulator is expected to issue an aircraft evaluation report and submit it for comment before starting pilot training. About 30 airlines and 175 countries have allowed the 737 MAX to return to service after a two-year safety ban, while 346 people were killed after five months of accidents involving the 737 max jets.

The pandemic caused Boeing to further plunge into an economic crisis.

Boeing’s 737 Max remains grounded in China, where trade tensions between Washington and Beijing have halted sales for years, although chief executive Dave Calhoun said last month that he still expects the 737 Max to gain clearance before the end of the year.

China’s aviation regulator had previously issued three requirements for the 737 MAX’s return to service: certified design changes, adequate pilot training, and final results from the crash investigation.

Before the grounding  of the 737 MAX in March 2019, Boeing was selling a quarter of its annual aircraft to its buyers.

Over the years, rising tensions between Washington and Beijing have further fueled uncertainty.

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