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A 737 Max 8 with a rudder painted in the colors of China's Xiamen Airlines seen at Boeing's Renton, Washington plant in June 2022. This aircraft is expected to be remarked to another customer. Xiamen recently ordered 40 Airbus A320neo aircraft.
A 737 Max 8 with a rudder painted in the colors of China's Xiamen Airlines seen at Boeing's Renton, Washington plant in June 2022. This aircraft is expected to be remarked to another customer. Xiamen recently ordered 40 Airbus A320neo aircraft.

China’s surveillance balloon deflates Boeing’s hopes for 737 delivery resumption

Spy balloons signal a return of Cold War surveillance tactics.

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The arrival of an alleged surveillance spy balloon in the skies over the U.S. on the eve of a high level diplomatic visit to China by top U.S. officials rapidly cooled the expectations of the country’s largest exporter to resume single-aisle jetliner deliveries.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s much-anticipated trip was formally postponed on February 3. The high-altitude balloon has been operating at around 60,000 feet over Montana, believed to have drifted across the jetstream from the Chinese mainland. The Chinese foreign ministry said the balloon was for weather research and went awry. “We are confident this is a Chinese surveillance balloon,” Blinken said on Friday, disputing the official line from China.

Related: Jetliner diplomacy between the U.S. and China looks a long way off

Earlier in the week, Boeing CEO David Calhoun told Bloomberg TV that he hoped the Secretary of State’s visit would reopen the delivery stream of 737 Max 8s into China. The trip held enormous promise for Boeing, which has been hoping for a thaw in U.S.-China relations. 

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