Boeing 737 MAX fly for validation flight in China

A Boeing 737 Max jet departed for a key test flight in China on August 4, 2021. The Boeing jetliner will conduct a series of test flights as the aircraft is trying to gain approval in the aviation market after the two fatal crashes, first with Lion Air in October 2018 and second with Ethiopian Airlines in March 2019. The B737 MAX aircraft were undergrounded globally after the two crashes on March 13, 2019.

Boeing 737-7 MAX MSN 42561 N7201S photo by woodys Aeroimages

The Boeing and China regulators have scheduled recertification flights in the upcoming days, which will evaluate whether the aircraft is fit for operating its service or carries the risks that might repeat the history.

Also Read: Emirates fined for violating air safety regulations in China

Arrival In China

The Boeing 737 MAX plane registered as N7201S arrived in Gaum en route to China today, Saturday, August 7, 2021. The Boeing 737 MAX landed at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai after 4 hours flight from Guam. The aircraft that arrived in the morning in China began its verification tests to clear the name of the variant and resuming its operations in the country.

With over 15 different Chinese airlines having ordered the B737 MAX variant, the stakes are high for the aircraft to prove itself in the Chinese aviation market. As one of the biggest markets in the world, the Boeing family would mark the approval as the biggest accomplishment in the path to clear the name of one of the most demanded aircraft at a time. At the moment, Boeing has delivered over 100 new MAX aircraft in China, but without approval from the CAAC, they cannot commence services. So, the failure to get re-certified will result in a huge loss of the potential market. It will also possibly raise the situation for refunding the previous buyers of the variant if they demand to return the B737 MAX variants.

Although the recertification procedure in China could take months, the initial testing phase after a long two-year grounding period is undoubtedly a huge leap by the aircraft manufacturer in the right direction.  With the approval of the Civil Aviation Administration of China(CAAC), the Boeing family will be able to increase the production rate of B737 MAX from 16 per month to 31 each month from early 2022.

After its touchdown at the Pudong International Airport, the aircraft will be all set to begin its tests flights with the CAAC personnel on August 11, 2021.

Boeing 737 MAX’s Journey

The aircraft had taken off from the Boeing Field near Seattle at 8:17 am local on August 4 for a multi-stop journey across the Pacific Ocean. The aircraft landed in John Rodgers Field outside Honolulu after nearly 5½ of flight hours at 10:43 local time to complete its first leg of the trip across the Pacific. 

After that, the aircraft took off from Honolulu to Antonia B. Wonpat International Airport on August 5. The Honolulu to Guam flight took about 7 hours and 46 minutes; the B737 MAX arrived at 12:04 pm local time at the airport on August 6. The aircraft’s journey would have been a lot easier and shorter; however, the B737 MAX aircraft has been locked out of the Russian airspace, so the aircraft had to take a longer route on its expedition across the Pacific.

The B737 MAX covered approx 7,567 miles distance on its three-sector trip to China. The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft was expected to arrive at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on 7th  August, so the trip for the aircraft has been pretty pleasant and accurate all the way. 

Three Key Principles For Approval

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, during a press conference, revealed the three key principles that could lift the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. He stated the three key principles set by the Civil Aviation Authority of China:

1. Design must be approved as airworthy.

2. All of the crew members must receive effective retraining.

3. The reports on Boeing 737 MAX’s previous two incidents must be clear with an effective improvement measure as outcomes. 

Lijian further added that the CAAC has been maintaining communication with the Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) and other relevant US companies on the relevant issues and is currently actively advancing the relevant work. 

It is not quite clear whether Boeing improved the performances of the B737 MAX variants with these initiatives. On the other hand, CAAC seems clear not ready to unground the aircraft in the Chinese market if the three mentioned key principles are not met.

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