Boeing is sending a 737 MAX over to China to conduct flight tests as part of the recertification process. The MAX departed from Seattle on Wednesday morning, stopping in Hawaii five and a half hours later. The jet will remain in Hawaii for a couple of days before its expected arrival at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on August 7th.
737 MAX heads to China for testing
Despite approximately 175 countries worldwide recertifying the Boeing 737 MAX after its grounding in March 2019, China has yet to recertify the jet. After promising talks between all parties involved, Boeing is sending a MAX to China to conduct recertification testing.
Flight BOE701 departed from Boeing Field King County Airport, near Seattle, at 08:17 local time on Wednesday. As the 737 MAX doesn’t have the range to reach China in one trip, the jet touched down at Kalaeloa Airport in Hawaii approximately five and a half hours later. It will stay in Hawaii before flying to Shanghai on August 7th.
Interestingly, the MAX won’t be able to fly the usual commercial route to China as it is still barred from Russian airspace. It is instead expected to fly closer to the equator on its way to China. Neither Boeing nor officials from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) directly commented on the flight.
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.”
Testing will commence on August 8th
After arriving in China, the 737 MAX will be subjected to a simulator test on August 8th. Provided the test goes according to plan, the jet will conduct its first test flight on August 11th. However, the entire recertification process is still expected to take several months.
Last month, Boeing sent a delegation of 35 pilots and engineers to China to prepare for the upcoming tests. U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials are also in China to oversee the process and have reportedly just completed their mandatory quarantine period.
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Recertification by the end of the year
Boeing Chief Executive Officer, Dave Calhoun, is hopeful the 737 MAX will be recertified in China by the end of the year. Speaking on an earnings call last month, Calhoun cited a number of factors in Boeing’s favor.
Calhoun explained that with the COVID pandemic hopefully receding, China’s airlines are eager to get the MAX back into service. Additionally, China is set to host the Winter Olympics in February 2022. Calhoun added that talks with the CAAC have been “encouraging and constructive.”
Before the MAX’s grounding in 2019, Boeing was selling approximately 25% of its MAX jets to Chinese customers. Presently, there are 15 airlines in China with the MAX in their fleet. Many Chinese carriers still have large outstanding orders for the MAX, including China Southern, which is expecting delivery of 43 737 MAX’s in the future.
Do you think the Boeing 737 MAX will be recertified in China by the end of this year? Let us know your insights in the comments.