China’s largest 737 MAX operator, China Southern Airlines, has completed a test flight of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, as sign that the country’s aviation regulator could be closer to certifying the jet to fly again, Reuters reported.
According to Flightradar24.com data, China Southern Airlines’ (ZNH) Boeing 737 MAX 8, registered as B-1206, took off for what is understood to be a first test flight from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) on January 21, 2022.
An aviation content creator in China called FATII Aviation has also spotted the carrier’s 737 MAX taking off from Guangzhou Baiyun.
.@CSAIRGlobal is now conducting the first 737 MAX test flight since the grounding. A significant step for 737 MAX in China. China Southern is the largest operator of the MAX in China. #737MAX pic.twitter.com/EkYJiJs3W0— FATIII Aviation (@FATIIIAviation) January 21, 2022
AeroTime has asked China Southern Airlines (ZNH) and Boeing for a comment.
In December 2021, the China Civil Aviation Authority (CAAC) issued an airworthiness directive (AD) on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The AD instructs airline operators on the revisions required before the MAX is recertified. However, it did not specify when China would lift a ban on the MAX in its airspace.
Getting approval to fly again in China would be a significant boost for Boeing. The country is one of the last major countries not to have recertified the 737 MAX to fly again.
China was the first country to ground the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in 2019 after the two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia claimed 346 lives.
The main aviation regulators such as the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), or Transport Canada (TC), have already reapproved the commercial use of the 737 MAX.