Boeing 737 Max heads to China for key test to end flight ban.

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A Boeing 737 Max jet is on its way to China to conduct a flight test for regulators, people familiar with the matter said, a step toward lifting the plane’s more than two-year grounding in the country following two fatal crashes.

The 737-7 took off from Seattle’s Boeing Field at around 8 a.m. local time, bound for John Rodgers Field outside Honolulu, according to FlightRadar24, Bloomberg reported.

See also: Boeing posts its first profit nearly two years.

“Boeing continues to work with global regulators as they complete their validation processes in order to better understand enhancements to the airplane,” the company said in an emailed statement.

Boeing’s shares recovered from a morning slump after Bloomberg News reported on the flight, rising as much as 1.4%. The stock was little changed at 11:39 a.m. in New York. Boeing had climbed 7% this year through Tuesday, about half the gain of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The Hawaii flight is the first leg of a trip across the Pacific, said the people, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. With the Max also barred from Russian airspace, the narrow-body plane will travel near the equator to China rather than take the shorter northern crossing that is typically flown by commercial aircraft.

While the Max’s validation flight in China would be a milestone, the country’s regulators still could take months to wrap up their work before allowing the plane to resume commercial service. Boeing sent a delegation of around 35 pilots and engineers to the nation last month to meet with regulators and prepare for simulator and flight testing.

U.S. Federal Aviation Administration technical officials have just completed a quarantine in China — required due to the Covid-19 pandemic — and are expected to participate in the test program, said another person familiar with the matter.

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