China issues 737 MAX airworthiness directive but troubled jet remains grounded

©Boeing 737 MAX

China’s aviation authority has issued an airworthiness directive for the Boeing 737 MAX, paving the way for the troubled jet to return to the skies over China. The directive provides operators with a list of required revisions and modifications to the jet before it can return to service. However, no date has been set for such an event to take place. Boeing’s shares rose 4.3% on pre-market trading on the news after a four-day-long-drop in share value as a consequence of the latest coronavirus concerns.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) was the first regulator to ground the 737 MAX, in March 2019, after two fatal crashes and it has now completed all its review of the design changes proposed by Boeing. The regulator has published the following statement on its website: “After conducting sufficient assessment, CAAC considers the corrective actions are adequate to address this unsafe condition.”

On Thursday, December 2, Boeing commented: “The CAAC’s decision is an important milestone toward safely returning the 737 MAX to service in China,” adding that: “Boeing continues to work with regulators and our customers to return the airplane to service worldwide.” Approximately 25% of 737 MAX jets were sold to Chinese airlines prior to the jet’s grounding and currently approximately one third of the 370 737 MAX aircraft that remain undelivered are for Chinese customers. The positive news coming from China is also beneficial for Safran, who manufactures engines for the 737 MAX as part of the CFM International joint venture with GE.

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