Uncertainty Continues Over Chinese Certification of 787

 - January 25, 2013, 11:14 AM
Boeing launched its six-month-long “Dream Tour” of the 787 in Beijing on December 4, 2011. More than a year later the airplane has yet to gain Chinese certification. (Photo: Boeing)

With deliveries of Boeing’s 787 suspended pending an FAA review prompted by a string of technical problems, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has still not completed certification of the new widebody. To date, Chinese airlines have collectively ordered more than 40 Dreamliners and China Southern Airlines had expected to receive its first aircraft in December 2012.

CAAC has indicated to AIN that it views the grounding of the 787 as a separate issue from its ongoing certification process in China, which they said has gone well so far. “When the process will be completed depends to a great extent upon the cooperativeness of the Boeing Company and the FAA,” a CAAC official commented.

According to press reports in China, CSA might get the first of its ten 787s in March. Official Chinese web sites have published contradictory reports on the status of the aircraft, to which authorities have already assigned a tail number (B-2727). Some of the reports indicate that the airplane remains engaged in pre-delivery test flights and others suggest that, after making a first flight in October 2012, it now sits in long-term storage.

Media reports in China have suggested that the approval delays might involve Chinese government efforts to gain leverage in negotiations aimed at securing FAA cooperation on the certification of Comac’s new ARJ-21 and C919 airliners. Chinese officials have not commented officially on the theory.