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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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Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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