Boeing 737MAX on its way back to the skies in China

CAAC's latest notice is seen by many as a signal that the Boeing 737MAX family aircraft may soon be back to the skies after being grounded for more than 32 months.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

By XUE Bingbing


Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a notice of proposed airworthiness directive on November 13, ordering carriers to address unsafe conditions relating to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) of the Boeing 737MAX family. The carriers were asked to send feedback by November 26.

Industry insiders suggest that the notice signals the final phase of approving Boeing 737MAX aircrafts back to the skies after being grounded for over 32 months.

An Air China captain said that flight crews have been engaged in theoretical and simulated training since August. All of them passed the tests in November. The training will continue, the captain said, until further notice.

China was the first country to ground the 737MAX after two fatal crashes involving the aircraft in 2018 and 2019 in Indonesia and Ethiopia, respectively. 

To resume commercial services, CAAC demanded that the aircraft modifications must be approved for airworthiness, and the pilots must be fully retrained to fly the model. The results of the investigations into the two crashes must be clear and improvements must prove to be effective.

In November 2020, the US Federal Aviation Administration took the lead in resuming 737MAX's service. The Boeing model has now made a comeback in 179 countries and regions, including Canada, Brazil, the European Union, and India. Boeing said in September that it expected the 737MAX flights to resume operation in China before the end of the year.

Statistics from VariFlight, a civil aviation data platform, show that 97 737MAX jets belonging to 13 airlines are currently grounded in China.