Boeing takes flight towards resuming China 737 MAX deliveries after key regulatory hurdle

Boeing takes flight towards resuming China 737 MAX deliveries after key regulatory hurdle

A glimmer of hope emerged for Boeing (BA.N) as reports surfaced on Wednesday suggesting a crucial step towards resuming long-stalled deliveries of the 737 MAX aircraft to China, its most lucrative market. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) reportedly granted the American aerospace giant a key clearance, paving the way for potential recertification of the plane in the world’s second-largest aviation market.

A Long-Awaited Breakthrough

The 737 MAX, Boeing’s workhorse single-aisle jet, was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following two fatal crashes that claimed 346 lives. While the global grounding was lifted in late 2020, China, a crucial market for the aircraft, maintained its own ban, citing safety concerns. This move dealt a significant blow to Boeing, as China had placed orders for over 200 737 MAX jets before the grounding.

The reported CAAC clearance, if confirmed, signifies a major advancement for Boeing’s efforts to regain access to the lucrative Chinese market. While individual aircraft deliveries still require approval from China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the CAAC’s green light marks a critical step in the recertification process.

Reasons for Optimism, But Cautious Steps Ahead

Analysts remain cautiously optimistic about the development. “[The reported CAAC clearance] is a positive development and suggests that Boeing is closer to resuming deliveries to China,” said Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at Teal Group. “However, there are still hurdles to overcome, including the NDRC approval and any potential additional requirements from the CAAC.”

Boeing itself has remained tight-lipped about the reports, declining to comment directly on the CAAC clearance. However, the company has expressed optimism about the prospects for resuming deliveries to China in the near future. “We continue to work closely with the CAAC on the return of the 737 MAX to service in China,” Boeing spokesperson Jessica Kowal said in a statement.

The Road Ahead: Challenges and Implications

Even if the NDRC grants its approval and the recertification process is completed, Boeing faces ongoing challenges in the Chinese market. The country’s aviation sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with airlines facing significant financial pressure. This could lead to delays in new aircraft deliveries, even for models like the 737 MAX that are in high demand.

Furthermore, the geopolitical tensions between the US and China remain a potential obstacle. Any deterioration in relations could lead to renewed regulatory hurdles for Boeing in the Chinese market.

Despite these challenges, the potential resumption of 737 MAX deliveries to China represents a significant boost for Boeing. The company has been struggling financially in recent years, and regaining access to the Chinese market would be a major shot in the arm. It would also provide a much-needed morale boost for employees and investors alike.


Boeing’s reported progress towards resuming 737 MAX deliveries to China is a welcome development for the embattled aerospace giant. However, the company still faces hurdles, both regulatory and commercial, before it can fully tap into this crucial market. The coming months will be critical for Boeing as it seeks to navigate the complex landscape of Chinese aviation and secure its long-awaited return to this vital market.