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(Reuters) - Chinese aviation officials have expressed willingness to conduct flight tests on Boeing Co's 737 MAX, potentially paving the way for the fastest-selling jet's return in China, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.
Deals of a validation flight are still being worked out and the planemaker plans to send a team of 35 pilots and engineers to meet the officials in late July, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter. (https://bloom.bg/3e0jZLP)
Boeing had initially hoped that China would let the MAX fly by end-2020, but trade power tensions, regulatory hurdles and attempts by the West to counter Chinese competition are delaying its return.
The company has been all but shut out of new orders in the world's biggest aircraft market since 2017, leading it to cut production of the long-haul 787 model.
Under the Biden administration, Boeing is stepping up efforts to convince China that the plane is safe, aiming to reset its most strategic partnership as air travel picks up from pandemic lows.
"Following approval from the FAA (U.S. Federal Aviation Administration) and other regulators to resume commercial operations, we have been working with other regulators as they complete their validation processes," said Boeing.
Still, it could take many months for the ban to be lifted after the test flight, the report said.
Shares of the company closed 2% higher at $236.77, after rising sharply on high volumes following the Bloomberg report in afternoon trading.
(Reporting by Shreyasee Raj in Bengaluru and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Devika Syamnath)