China clears Boeing 737 Max to fly again

BEIJING (AP) – China’s aviation regulator cleared the Boeing 737 Max on Thursday to return to flying with technical upgrades more than two years after the plane was grounded worldwide following two fatal crashes.

China is the last major market where the Boeing 737 Max was awaiting approval after the United States allowed flights to resume in December 2020 and European Union (EU) regulators gave permission in January. Brazil and Canada also have given approval.

Governments grounded the Boeing 737 Max after a total of 346 people were killed in the crashes of a Lion Air flight in Indonesia on October 29, 2018, and an Ethiopian Airlines flight on March 10, 2019.

Chinese pilots will need to complete new training before commercial flights can begin, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on its website. It said Boeing Co is required to install additional software and components.

“CAAC considers the corrective actions adequate to address this unsafe condition,” the agency said in an airworthiness directive.

Boeing’s shares jumped 7.5 per cent on Thursday.

“The CAAC’s decision is an important milestone toward safely returning the 737 MAX to service in China,” Chicago-based Boeing said in a statement.

It said the company was working with regulators “to return the airplane to service worldwide”.

China Southern Airlines Boeing 737 Max airplanes. PHOTO: AP