China said Boeing’s 737 MAX planes were airworthy after taking “corrective actions” to improve their safety, according to an aviation authority directive seen by AFP Thursday, following the aeroplanes being grounded in 2019 after two fatal accidents.
Beijing was the first among a slew of countries to ground Boeing planes after an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March 2019 killed all 157 passengers and crew on board, only five months after another Boeing jet went down in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.
But a Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) document — seen by AFP — concluded that “after conducting the sufficient assessment, CAAC considers the corrective actions are adequate to address this unsafe condition.”
In the airworthiness directive, the CAAC said Boeing had addressed the design and the “unsafe conditions” of the planes.
The aviation authority offered instructions to airlines on revisions needed — mainly to safety protocols — before the aircraft returns to service.
The directive means there are now no regulatory obstacles for the return of Boeing 737 MAX in China, although it was not clear when flights will immediately resume.
“CAAC’s decision is an important milestone toward safely returning the 737 MAX to service in China,” Boeing in China said in a statement to AFP.
“Boeing continues to work with regulators and our customers to return the airplane to service worldwide,” it said.
China is the last key travel market to bring the planes back into use after the United States and Europe allowed the model to return to the skies last year.
At the time of grounding, a dozen Chinese carriers had the planes in their fleets — about a quarter of all such jets in operation worldwide, according to data from the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission that oversees big state-run carriers.
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