And Another One: Air China Becomes The Latest Chinese Carrier To Resume Boeing 737 MAX Flights

May 11th, 2023
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Air China has become the latest Chinese carrier to resume Boeing 737 MAX flights, following the lifting of a two-year grounding order by China’s aviation regulator. This move comes after several other Chinese airlines, including China Southern, Xiamen Airlines, and Hainan Airlines, resumed their MAX operations in January and February. Here’s what you need to know about Air China’s decision to resume MAX flights.

The Background

In March 2019, two fatal crashes involving the Boeing 737 MAX occurred within five months, leading to a global grounding of the aircraft. The first crash occurred in October 2018 when Lion Air Flight 610 crashed in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. The second crash occurred in March 2019 when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed, killing all 157 people on board. The grounding order was lifted in the United States in November 2020, followed by several other countries, but China kept its ban in place until recently.

Air China’s Decision to Resume MAX Flights

On March 1, Air China resumed its MAX operations with a flight from Beijing to Chengdu. According to a statement by the airline, it has taken “rigorous and thorough measures” to ensure the safety of its MAX aircraft, including software updates, pilot training, and equipment checks.

Air China currently has 15 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet and has ordered a total of 100 MAX planes. The airline said that it plans to gradually increase the number of MAX flights as it receives more aircraft.

The Significance of Air China’s Move

Air China’s decision to resume MAX flights is significant for several reasons. First, it reflects the Chinese government’s confidence in the safety of the MAX aircraft after two years of scrutiny and testing. Second, it signals a significant shift in the Chinese aviation industry’s attitude towards Boeing. In the aftermath of the MAX crashes, Chinese airlines cancelled orders for dozens of MAX planes and shifted their focus to Airbus. However, the recent resumption of MAX operations by Chinese airlines suggests that Boeing may be able to win back some of its lost market share in China.

The Future of the Boeing 737 MAX in China

Air China’s resumption of MAX flights is the latest step in Boeing’s efforts to regain the trust of Chinese airlines and regulators. However, it remains to be seen how quickly and fully the MAX will be reintegrated into China’s aviation market. While some Chinese airlines have resumed MAX operations, others, such as China Eastern and China United, have yet to do so. Furthermore, the Chinese aviation regulator has imposed strict conditions on the resumption of MAX flights, including additional pilot training requirements and enhanced safety protocols.

Final Thoughts

Air China’s decision to resume Boeing 737 MAX flights is a significant development for both the airline and the aviation industry as a whole. It signals the Chinese government’s confidence in the safety of the MAX aircraft and may pave the way for other Chinese airlines to resume their MAX operations. However, it also highlights the challenges that Boeing faces in rebuilding its reputation and market share in China after the MAX crashes. The coming months will be critical for Boeing as it seeks to fully reintegrate the MAX into the Chinese aviation market.