US, China Move To Accept Aircraft Certification

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The FAA and Chinese regulators signed an implementation agreement for the U.S.–China Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) late last week. Although the two countries signed BASA in 2005, generally agreeing to facilitate mutual acceptance of parts and aircraft certified by the other, it has taken 12 years for the countries to get to agreement on a concrete implementation plan. The U.S. has similar agreements with Canada and Europe to facilitate mutual aircraft certification acceptance. President Trump is scheduled to travel to China on a trade mission in early November, which is expected to include representatives from Boeing.

U.S. and Chinese aerospace companies both hope to gain from the agreement. Although the Chinese-made C919 lacks the performance to compete with the Boeing 737MAX and Airbus A320neo, its narrow-body peers, other than for the business of state-subsidized Chinese carriers, COMAC, maker of the C919, has bold aspirations to compete with the big two. The ability to certify the aircraft for use by U.S. air carriers would lend significant credibility to the business. Boeing, conversely, wants to make sure they’re not shut out of the Chinese market, which was the biggest buyer of transport category jets in 2015. Richard Aboulafia, a leading commercial aviation market analyst, sums up the accord by saying, “This is diplomatically important. It shows that the U.S. takes China’s aviation industry seriously and that it regards their civil-aviation officials as reliable partners.”

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