China Clears the Way for Return of Boeing 737 MAX

Issue: 6 / 2021

China’s civil aviation regulator has issued an airworthiness directive clearing the way for Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft to return to flight operations in China after three years. However, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has not given a date as to when the aircraft can begin passenger flights. “CAAC completed review of the actions proposed by Boeing, including flight control software design change, Max display software design change, aircraft flight manual revision, horizontal stabilizer trim wire bundle routing change, etc,” the CAAC writes in the directive, published on December 2, 2021. After conducting sufficient assessment, CAAC considers the corrective actions are adequate to address this unsafe condition. Boeing welcomes the approval, calling it an important milestone toward safely returning the 737 MAX to service in China. “Boeing continues to work with regulators and our customers to return the airplane to service worldwide,” the Chicagobased air framer adds.

China was the first country to ground the aircraft after two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. The 737 MAX returned to service in late 2020, beginning with the USA and Brazil. Most recently, South Korea lifted the operational ban on November 22, 2021. Boeing adds that, to date, more than 180 out of 195 countries have lifted the MAX’s grounding. Aerospace analysts have said the slow pace of the MAX’s certification by China and Russia reflect broader geo-political disputes between the US and those countries, China in particular. Boeing completed a 737 MAX flight test in China during the third quarter and Chief Executive David Calhoun said in late October that the company was working “toward China’s approval by the end of the year, with a resumption of deliveries to follow in the first quarter of next year”.