Boeing 737 MAX 7 test flight takes off in China

Boeing 737 MAX 7 test flight takes off in China

BEIJING SYDNEY - A Boeing Co 737 MAX test plane took to the skies in China on Wednesday as the U.S. supplier looks to end a nearly two and a half year regulatory grounding of the model in key travel markets.

Flight tracking website Flightradar 24 showed a 737 MAX 7 test plane flying off from Pudong International Airport at 9:24 a.m. with no destination listed, out of Shanghai to its Shanghai-centered Pudong International Airport. It was flying in a southeasterly direction.

The 737 MAX test flight left Honolulu last week and arrived in Seattle on Aug. 7 after refuelling stops in Shanghai and Guam. Reuters reported last week that it was due to perform its first test flight in China on August 11 if everything went good.

About 30 airlines and 175 countries have allowed the Boeing MAX to return to service after a nearly two-year safety ban after crashes five months apart killed 346 people, plunging Boeing into a financial crisis since they were compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.

Boeing's 737 MAX remains grounded in Beijing, where trade tensions between Washington and Beijing have cut sales for years, although chief executive Dave Calhoun said last month that he still expected the 737 MAX to win approval before year-end.

China's aviation regulator issued three requirements for the return of the 737 MAX: definitive design changes, adequate pilot training, and necessary findings from the crash investigations.

Before 737 MAX was built in March 2019, Boeing sold one quarter of the planes its 750 sqm designed annually to Chinese buyers. For years, simmering tensions between Washington and Beijing have caused uncertainty.