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By Siddharth Vikram Philip, Julie Johnsson, and Yousef Gamal El-Din

November 15, 2021

  •  Commercial planes head says he’s hopeful about a deal
  •  Boeing’s Max was grounded by China after two fatal crashes

Boeing Co. is optimistic that it will soon be logging Chinese orders and deliveries of its 737 Max after the nation’s regulator signaled it is close to ending a more than 2 1/2 year grounding of the single-aisle workhorse.

“We’re hopeful,” Stan Deal, who head’s Boeing’s commercial airplanes division, said in an interview Sunday. “We’ve seen some orders on freighters that have come through and we’re just encouraged. We know that President Biden and President Xi are talking next week, so those are all encouraging signs.”

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Boeing shares advanced as much as 4.6% Monday and were up 4.3% as of 9:44 a.m. in New York, the biggest gain among members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, after the comments and other developments over the weekend. The stock is now up 7.5% for the year.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China posted a request for comment about the proposed changes and fixes to the jet in order for it to return last week, a sign that it might be close to recertifying the 737 Max more than a year after the jet was cleared in the U.S. 

Boeing teams visited China earlier this year to perform technical test flights and simulator sessions, as well as an evaluation of its revised pilot training curriculum. 

“Our job has been to put forth every bit of technical information for their evaluation,” Deal said. “We’re checking the boxes, but it’s up to the CAAC ultimately”

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Diplomatic Thaw

China was the first nation to ground the Max, acting within hours of a second fatal crash in Ethiopia in March 2019, and hasn’t allowed the single-aisle workhorse to fly since, halting deliveries to Boeing’s largest overseas market. 

Diplomatic tensions between the U.S and China have added to the uncertainty surrounding the return of the plane, a key U.S. export and Boeing’s main source of revenue. But there are signs of a thaw, with U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping slated to talk for the first time.

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Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call that he was optimistic China would recertify the Max before the end of this year, clearing the way for deliveries to resume in the first quarter of 2022. 

That’s a critical factor in the planemaker’s plan to ramp up production of the Max from current levels of 19-jets a month to a 31-jet monthly output next year.