China's aviation regulator will likely grant approval next month for Boeing Co.'s 787 aircraft to begin commercial service with the nation's airlines, according to the chairman of China's fourth-biggest carrier, Hainan Airlines Co. .
Chinese airlines have ordered a total of 35 Boeing 787s, including 10 each for Hainan Airlines and its bigger rival China Southern Airlines Co., according to Boeing.
After several rounds of production delays, the first 787 was due to be delivered to China Southern last year, but the delivery was held up because Chinese authorities hadn't issued an airworthiness certificate for the aircraft.
The grounding in January of the global 787 fleet after lithium-ion batteries burned on two aircraft further delayed Chinese regulatory approval for the aircraft. Authorities in the U.S and Japan last week approved Boeing's modifications of the aircraft's battery design, paving the way for the 50 technologically advanced jetliners already delivered to airlines to return to service. Some foreign airlines had been operating 787s on routes into China before the grounding.
Hainan Airlines Chairman Wang Yingming said he expects the company to receive the first 787 within the next two months, though he said the timing will ultimately depend on when regulators certify the plane.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China declined to comment Monday on the certification process of the 787.
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