China delays timetable for Boeing 737 MAX return

China  delays timetable for Boeing 737 MAX return
Grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen parked in an aerial photo at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, on July 1, 2019. (REUTERS/File Photo)
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Updated 23 October 2020

China delays timetable for Boeing 737 MAX return

China  delays timetable for Boeing 737 MAX return
  • The best-selling 737 MAX was grounded around the world since March 2019 after two deadly crashes blamed on the plane's new navigation system 

BEIJING: China, the first country to ground Boeing Co’s 737 MAX following two fatal crashes, has not set a timetable for the plane’s return to service, the head of its aviation regulator said on Thursday.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has set three principles for the jet to return to service in China, Feng Zhenglin, director at the agency, said.

Design changes need to be certified, pilots need to receive proper training and effective improvements need to be made to address the specific findings of investigations into the crashes, Feng said.

“Based on these three principles, we have not set a timetable for Boeing 737 MAX’s return to service here. As long as these conditions are met, we’re happy to see the MAX return to service in China,” said Feng.

“But if these conditions cannot be met, we still have to carry out strict airworthiness certification in order to ensure safety.”

The 737 MAX, which has been grounded around the world since March 2019, is expected receive regulatory approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency to resume flying in November.

The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) has not publicly disclosed a timeline for the MAX’s return of service, but sources familiar with the matter have said it is expected to lift its grounding order around mid-November, although the date could slip.

American Airlines has said that it plans to return the jet to service at the year-end, subject to FAA approval.