Boeing To Begin China 737 MAX Validation Flights

After flying a longer and more equatorial path from the United States to China, a Boeing 737 MAX 7 will be used to recertify the type in the country. With technical experts from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will scrutinize the aircraft and its updates, ensuring it can safely operate. Let’s look at the aircraft’s final flight to China and what is ahead for the aircraft.

737 MAX 7
The same aircraft has been used in validation flights with the FAA, as well as with Transport Canada. Photo: Getty Images

When asked about the aircraft’s journey to China, Boeing declined to comment on any specific activities. Rather, it provided us with the following statement:

“Boeing continues to work with global regulators as they complete their validation processes in order to better understand enhancements to the airplane,” 

The flight to Shanghai

If you’ve been following the journey of this little 737 MAX 7, you’ll know that it departed Boeing Field (BFI) in Washington state at 08:17 on August 4th, heading to Kalaeloa (John Rodgers Field) Airport (JRF) in Hawaii as its first stop.

The jet then took off from Hawaii at 08:18 local time on August 5th, headed for its second stop, Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport (GUM), on the US overseas territory of Guam.

Crossing the international dateline, the jet arrived in Guam on August 6th and spent the night at the airport, departing for China the next morning. It took off for Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 08:01 local time, landing there at 10:43. This final transoceanic hop took four hours and 42 minutes.

MAX 7 flight
The final leg of the journey to meet Chinese aviation regulators saw the aircraft fly from Guam to Shanghai. Photo:

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What’s next?

While Boeing nor the CAAC have disclosed specific test flight activities, we can expect to see procedures similar to previous test and recertification flights. If you’ve been following this saga, you’ll know that the 737 MAX has already had to undergo validation and recertification with the FAA, Transport Canada, EASA, as well as other civil aviation regulators in other parts of the world.

Indeed, it looks like this particular 737 MAX has been frequently used for test and recertification flights over the past year. data shows several rounds of test flights in January, February, May, June, and July. However, moving further back in time, we’ve reported on the fact that N7201S has been used for recertification flights with Transport Canada in late August 2020 out of Moses Lake. This same jet also flew to Vancouver for test flights with EASA regulators in September of 2020.

According to AIN Online, testing won’t happen right away. Rather, the aircraft will be prepared over the next few days to begin test flights with CAAC officials on August 11th

737 MAX 7
N7201S has been the main test aircraft for recertification flights. Photo: Getty Images

As mentioned previously N7201S is actually the very first 737 MAX 7 built. At nearly three-and-a-half years old, the aircraft has MSN 42561 and Line Number 6744. Data suggests the aircraft will be delivered to Southwest Airlines once Boeing is done using it as a test aircraft.

Do you think Chinese officials will treat the aircraft any differently from other regulatory agencies and their scrutiny of the aircraft? Let us know in the comments.