* Article updated 16/08/2021 07:28 UTC with a statement from Boeing *
After spending a week in China, one of Boeing’s 737 MAX 7 aircraft is returning home. The aircraft had been temporarily based in Shanghai, where it operated a return test flight as part of the US manufacturer’s efforts to get its next-generation narrowbody recertified in China. The plane’s return journey will take it home via Guam.
According to data from RadarBox.com, a Boeing 737 MAX 7 test aircraft (N7201S) departed Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) this morning at 08:15 local time. Data from ch-aviation.com shows that this aircraft is around three-and-a-half years old, having first flown in March 2018. It will eventually join Southwest Airlines.
The aircraft flew southeast for four hours and 28 minutes after leaving Shanghai. Its destination was Guam’s Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport (GUM) in the Pacific Ocean. It touched down there at 14:43 local time. This is also where the aircraft made a stop on its way to Shanghai for the testing. This journey took place from August 4th-7th.
The flight to China actually made two stops, of which Guam was the second. The first saw the MAX touch down at John Rodgers Field in Kapolei, Hawaii. The need to travel via Guam arose due to the MAX still being banned from Russian airspace, demanding a route closer to the equator. As such, the return journey will likely mirror the outward itinerary.
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A week of testing
While in China, N7201S made a pair of test flights that saw the aircraft make a return trip from its temporary Shanghai home. These took place on August 11th, with the plane flying to Zhoushan Putuoshan Airport (HSN) in the morning, and back in the afternoon.
As Simple Flying reported at the time of the aircraft’s first Chinese test flight, Zhoushan is situated around 150 km (93 miles) south of Shanghai. The deployment of the first-ever MAX 7 came at the right time for Boeing, as Simple Flying reported last month that China is moving closer to recertifying the type. CEO Dave Calhoun stated earlier this year:
“We continue to work with global regulators and still anticipate that the remaining regulatory approvals will occur this year, including China, and as always we will follow global regulators lead in the steps ahead.”
Boeing has stayed tight-lipped regarding N7201S’s trip to China. A spokesperson told Simple Flying that “Boeing continues to work with global regulators as they complete their validation processes in order to better understand enhancements to the airplane.“
Potentially a key market
Recent developments have certainly increased the prospects of having the MAX recertified in China by the end of the year. This is in contrast to the country’s position in March, when it was ‘not ready‘ to allow the type to operate commercial services in its airspace once again. China may also prove to be a key market for the MAX.
Indeed, as Simple Flying reported earlier this month, 15 China-based carriers have the MAX in their respective fleets. As such, recertifying the type would significantly increase the aircraft’s market share there. It will be interesting to see when this happens.
What do you make of the Boeing 737 MAX’s recent testing in China? How do you feel regarding its recertification prospects in the country? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.