A Boeing 737 MAX test plane took to the skies in China on Wednesday as the US manufacturer looks to end a nearly two-and-a-half-year regulatory grounding of the model in the key travel market. Flight-tracking website Flightradar24 showed a 737 MAX 7 test plane taking off from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport at 9.24am, with no destination listed, flying in a south-easterly direction. The flight tracking was incomplete, but photos on Chinese aviation blogs showed it landed at Zhoushan Putuoshan Airport, about 150km (80 miles) to the south, which industry sources told Reuters was the expected destination. Boeing has a 737 MAX completion plant in Zhoushan to install interiors and paint aeroplane liveries. After arriving on Aug. 7 in China, Boeing’s 737 Max 7 test aircraft is airborne off the coast on an apparent recertification flight (or prep flight) with Chinese aviation regulators as the company seeks to clear the aircraft type for service again there. pic.twitter.com/tjucwxVl21 — Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) August 11, 2021 The 737 MAX test plane left Seattle last week and arrived in Shanghai on Saturday after refuelling stops in Honolulu and Guam. Reuters reported last week it was due for its first test flight in China on Wednesday if all went well. Boeing said it was continuing to work with global regulators as they complete their validation processes on the model and declined to comment specifically on the test flight in China. After flight testing, China’s regulator is expected to issue an aircraft evaluation report and put it out for comment before pilot training can begin, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on condition of anonymity. 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’s 737 MAX remains grounded in China, where trade tensions between Washington and Beijing have cut off sales for years, though chief executive Dave Calhoun said last week he still expects the 737 MAX to win approval before year-end. 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.