The Boeing 737 MAX 8 has entered the Chinese market days ahead of US President Donald Trump’s Nov. 8-10 visit to China, during which Boeing commercial aircraft sales are expected to a be a prime topic of discussion.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Kevin McAllister—who recently was front and center at a White House signing ceremony to finalize an order for 39 Boeing widebody aircraft by Singapore Airlines—is among a group of CEOs accompanying Trump to China, raising speculation that new aircraft orders will be announced during the visit.
Trump has repeatedly voiced displeasure with the balance of trade between the US and China, and large sales of Boeing aircraft to China are a means of adding billions of dollars to the US side of the ledger. The US trade deficit with China stood at more than $345 billion in 2016.
Boeing already has nearly 100 737 MAX aircraft designated for delivery to China over the next 14 months. Beijing-based Air China was the first to take delivery of Boeing’s newest product when it accepted its first 737 MAX 8 in Seattle Nov. 3.
Air China committed to 60 Boeing 737s in December 2014, but the breakdown between MAXs and NGs was not revealed. The carrier currently has more than 140 737NGs in its fleet. It also operates seven 747-8s, 26 777-300ERs and 11 787-9s.
Trump’s trip also comes on the heels of a bilateral safety agreement between US FAA and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in which both agencies pledged to recognize “each other’s regulatory systems with respect to the airworthiness of aviation products and articles,” according to FAA.
The Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness document “allows each authority to leverage approvals completed by the other with respect to design, production and airworthiness as well as continued airworthiness,” FAA stated. “The agreement uses the compatibilities of the two authorities’ certification systems.”
While the agreement should streamline processes to allow Boeing aircraft to enter the Chinese market more seamlessly, from China’s perspective it importantly clears the regulatory path for Chinese-produced aircraft such as the C919 to eventually enter the US market.
Boeing in September released a new forecast projecting that China will require 7,240 new commercial aircraft through 2036 valued at approximately $1.1 trillion. Boeing’s estimate for the number of aircraft was 6.3% higher than a projection it made just a year earlier.
Boeing broke ground on a 737 completion and delivery center in Zhoushan, China, earlier this year.
(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)