China will follow its previously set rules after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared the return to service of Boeing's 737 MAX jet, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) told the Global Times Wednesday night.
The civil aviation regulator said there are set rules that were made public, including design changes to the aircraft that must be approved for airworthiness. Also, pilots must be fully and effectively trained, and there must be a clear investigation outcome from the two tragic accidents associated with the Boing jet.
In October, Feng Zhenglin, head of the CAAC, said that "as long as [the aircraft] meets the three requirements, we are happy to see it back in service."
China was the first to ground the Boeing 737 MAX after two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people. Chinese airlines - including China Southern Airlines, Air China and Hainan Airlines - had 96 737 MAX jets in operation before the grounding.
A spokesperson for Shenzhen Airlines, which has five Boeing 737 MAX planes, told the Global Times on Thursday that the carrier will follow the requirements of the CAAC as to when the planes can return to its flying fleet.
"China will not be the first after the US," Qi Qi, an independent market watcher, told the Global Times on Thursday, saying that China has no urgent need for the Boeing 737 MAX to fly again, given the industry's excess capacity. But he predicted that March 2021 could be possible time, for the regulator is considering flight plans for the next season.
Richard Wynne, managing director for China marketing with Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told the Global Times last week that Boeing has been actively cooperating with Chinese regulators in terms of technical support, but the time for the plane's return to flight in China's airspace will be determined by Chinese regulators, and Boeing has no timetable.
Boeing said in a release sent to the Global Times on Wednesday that throughout the past 20 months, it has worked closely with airlines, providing them with detailed recommendations regarding long-term storage and ensuring their input was part of the effort to safely return the plane to service.
Boeing said it will continue to work with regulators around the world and customers to return the airplane to service worldwide.
US Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson on Wednesday signed an order to allow the Boeing 737 MAX to resume service. American Airlines is supposed to be the first to fly the Boeing 737 MAX again, as the company said on Wednesday that it will let the plane resume service at the end of this year.
Boeing lost another 12 orders for its grounded 737 MAX jetliner in October, and delivered 13 aircraft to customers, down from the 20 jets delivered in the same month a year earlier.
For the year of 2020 through October, the number of MAX orders canceled, or removed from Boeing's official backlog when it applies stricter accounting standards, stood at 1,043 aircraft, according to Reuters.