Boeing 737 MAX set to arrive in China on Saturday ahead of simulator test, test flight
- Boeing’s 737 MAX remains grounded in China, where trade tensions between Washington and Beijing have cut off sales for years
- Some 30 airlines and 175 countries have allowed the 737 MAX to return following a nearly two year safety ban after crashes five months apart killed 346 people
A Boeing 737 MAX jet departed the United States for China on Wednesday to conduct a flight test as part of efforts to gain approval in the vital travel market following two fatal crashes, people familiar with the matter said.
Flight-tracking site FlightRadar24 showed a 737 MAX 7 test plane taking off from Boeing Field near Seattle at 8.17am local time. It landed in John Rodgers Field outside Honolulu nearly 5.5 hours later to complete the first leg of its trip across the Pacific.
The test plane, which lacks the range for a direct flight, is expected to arrive at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on Saturday, ahead of a simulator test on Sunday and if all goes well a first test flight in China on Wednesday, one of the people said.
The sources declined to be named because they were not authorised to speak publicly about the matter.
A Boeing official declined to comment on the flight and referred questions to regulators.
“Boeing continues to work with global regulators as they complete their validation processes to better understand enhancements to the airplane,” the official said.
Civil Aviation Administration of China did not respond immediately to a request for comment
Some 30 airlines and 175 countries have allowed the 737 MAX to return to service following a nearly two year safety ban after crashes five months apart killed 346 people, plunging Boeing into a financial crisis long-since compounded by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Boeing 737 MAX resumes passenger flights in the US after 2-year suspension
Before the 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 after a second fatal crash, Boeing was selling one quarter of the planes it built annually to China buyers.
For years, simmering geopolitical tensions between Washington and Beijing have caused uncertainty.
Industry sources have also cautioned that the worsening coronavirus pandemic situation in China may delay the planned testing.