After two crashes, China finally gives the 737 MAX its long-awaited clearance

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According to a government decision seen by AFP, Chinese authorities approved the Boeing 737 MAX to start service on Thursday, resolving a significant issue surrounding the American aviation giant’s recovery after a lengthy downturn.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has decided to allow the plane to return to airline schedules in China in 2022, following months of negotiations between Beijing and Boeing.

Following the announcement, Boeing’s shares jumped, clearing the path for the company to transfer more than 100 MAX aircraft to Chinese carriers, which were manufactured during the plane’s nearly two-year banning in China following two tragic disasters.

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Despite on-going trade and political tensions between Washington and Beijing, the CAAC’s decision confirms a place for the American jet builder in the country — an important growth market in aviation.

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 “This will give Boeing the confidence to resume ramping up plane production,” said Michel Merluzeau, an analyst at AIR consultancy, who added that the action represents “light at the end of the tunnel” for the MAX’s woes. After being grounded internationally in March 2019 following the second of two crashes that cost 346 lives, China is the last major travel market to bring the MAX back into service.

The United States gave Boeing permission to resume operation in November 2020, and most other major aviation authorities followed suit shortly after. The process took far longer in China, with the CAAC finally flying the plane for the first time in the third quarter of this year. Analysts believe that tensions with Washington may have contributed to the delays.

Chinese regulators, on the other hand, gave the go light on Thursday after requiring plane changes such as the installation of new software packages to address the problem and an update to the pilot manual. According to a document obtained by AFP from the authority after doing sufficient assessment, CAAC considers the corrective efforts are enough to resolve this harmful condition.

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