China forms task force to review design changes to Boeing 737 MAX

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s aviation regulator said on Tuesday that it had set up a task force to review design changes to the Boeing Co 737 MAX that had been submitted by the planemaker after the fleet was grounded last month.

FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has reverted to Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on issues regarding the aircraft’s airworthiness and is waiting for their response, the Chinese regulator said in a statement on its website.

China was the first country to ground the newest version of Boeing’s workhorse 737 model last month following a deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10.

Boeing filed an application on March 15 through the FAA to obtain an airworthiness certificate from CAAC, the Chinese regulator said in the statement that summarized remarks from a monthly briefing.

CAAC said it had since set up a task force to review changes submitted by Boeing in accordance with a bilateral agreement between the United States and China.

The Chinese regulator did not specify the changes submitted. Boeing is planning to update the software on an anti-stall system linked to the Ethiopian Airlines crash and an earlier one of Indonesia’s Lion Air but the planemaker has not yet submitted the update to FAA for approval.

CAAC is one of several regulators taking part in an FAA review panel on the 737 MAX which is expected to start this month.

The Chinese regulator said one of its pilot experts and one expert on aircraft certification would join the panel.

CAAC said it would make sure that every 737 MAX undergoes the necessary design changes and every pilot receives the necessary training before the fleet returns to service.

Chinese airlines operated 97 of the 371 737 MAX jets in service before the grounding, the most of any country, according to Flightglobal data.

Reporting by Stella Qiu and Brenda Goh; Editing by Jamie Freed and Muralikumar Anantharaman