Aviation Weekly: News and Highlights 10-16 January
The last Boeing 747 left the company’s widebody factory in advance of its delivery to Atlas Air in early 2023. (Photo: Boeing/Paul Weatherman)

Top News and Stories this week:

  • Boeing 737 MAX Operates First Passenger Flight in China After Nearly Four Years
  • Australian Startup Bonza Cleared for Takeoff
  • Power Bank Catches Fire on Scoot Airbus A320 in Taiwan
  • Alaska Airlines Retires its Final Airbus A320
  • Delta Airlines Boeing 757 Caught Engine Fire While Accelerating for Takeoff
  • COMAC Announces ARJ21 Freighter Conversion Program
  • Last Boeing 747 Emerges From Paint Shop

Boeing 737 MAX Operates First Passenger Flight in China After Nearly Four Years

On the 13th of January 2023, China Southern Airlines became the first Chinese carrier to operate a Boeing 737 MAX flight in China in nearly four years.

China Southern’s domestic flight CZ3960 departed at 12:45pm from Guangzhou and landed at 2:55pm in Zhengzhou. The Boeing 737 MAX 8 with registration B-1206 operated flight CZ3960, according to the flight tracking website Flightradar24. On Friday, two Boeing 737 MAX 8s of China Southern departed its hub at Guangzhou Baiyun International – one bound for Zhengzhou and another bound for Wuhan.

a screenshot of a map
Source: Flightradar24

Even though other countries have been resuming Boeing 737 MAX flights since 2020, China is the last major market to resume flying the MAX jets, marking a major milestone in Boeing’s attempt to rebuild its business in one of the largest aviation markets.

“Boeing continues to work with global regulators and customers to safely return the 737 MAX to service worldwide.”

Boeing spokesperson

Earlier in October 2022, China Southern scheduled a return to commercial service for the 737 MAX after being grounded in the country since March 2019. However, it did not operate the flight as planned.

Australian Startup Bonza Cleared for Takeoff

Australian low-cost startup airline Bonza has obtained its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the country’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to operate scheduled passenger flights.

Bonza obtained its AOC after the carrier submitted the final documents and successfully completed proving flights. It will enter a domestic aviation market currently dominated by Qantas and Virgin Australia.

“This is a significant milestone and we congratulate Bonza on achieving its air operator’s certificate. Australia has one of the safest aviation industries in the world and travellers should be assured when they get on a Bonza aircraft that the operator has been assessed in detail to ensure it complies with the same safety requirements as other Australian airlines,” CASA Director of Aviation Safety and CEO Pip Spence said.

a plane flying over a beach
Source: Bonza

The low-cost carrier is now preparing to sell tickets for flights from its Queensland base at Sunshine Coast Airport which will be followed by services from Melbourne.

Bonza’s CEO Tim Jordan expressed his excitement saying it is a historic moment for Australian aviation to launch the first high-capacity airline in more than 15 years and the country’s only independent low-cost carrier.

Power Bank Catches Fire on Scoot Airbus A320 in Taiwan

On the 10th of January 2023, a power bank caught fire onboard a Scoot flight at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport. Two passengers suffered minor finger burns after the power bank overheated and caught fire.

The Airbus A320neo with registration 9V-TNE was scheduled to operate flight TR993 bound for Singapore Changi. However, while it was taxiing for take-off, passengers informed the cabin crew members that there was a fire onboard.

Footage shared on the internet shows flight attendants putting out flames in the cabin filled with smoke.


Following the incident, the aircraft returned safely to the gate without an emergency evacuation. The airline confirmed the incident and said that investigations are ongoing.

“Scoot sincerely apologizes for the incident. The safety of our customers and crew is our top priority. Investigations into the incident are underway.”

Scoot Spokesperson

Alaska Airlines Retires its Final Airbus A320

On 10th January 2023, Alaska Airlines retired its final Airbus A320, with the aircraft operating its last revenue flight from Seattle to Los Angeles a day before on the 9th of January.

After completing its final revenue flight, the final A320 with registration N849VA departed for Victorville from Los Angeles as flight AS9800, where it’ll now be stored. It joined the 11 other A320s phased out by Alaska Airlines in January 2023.

a map of a plane with a route
Source: Flightradar24

Alaska Airlines acquired the Airbus A320s following its merger with Virgin America in April 2016. Prior to this merger, Alaska Airlines did not operate any Airbus aircraft. Following the retirement of its final A320 aircraft, which previously belonged to Virginia America, only 10 Airbus A321neos remain in the carrier’s fleet.

In October 2022, Alaska Airlines placed a firm order for 52 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with options for an additional 105 MAX aircraft. The MAX jets will continue to be the backbone of its narrowbody operations for many decades to come.

Delta Airlines Boeing 757 Engine Caught Fire During Takeoff

On the 10th of January, a Delta Airlines Boeing 757 was forced to reject its takeoff at John Wayne Airport in California after one of its engines caught fire.

The Boeing 757-200 with registration N712TW was performing flight DL447 from Santa Ana to Atlanta. However, while it was accelerating for takeoff from Santa Ana’s runway 20R, the crew rejected the takeoff due to the failure of one of its engines.

According to the Aviation Herald, the crew rejected the takeoff at a low speed of about 40 knots over the ground following the failure of the right-hand engine. As seen in footage shared on the internet, the right-hand PW2040 engine failed, emitting a loud bang, streaks of flame and heavy smoke.

After rejecting the takeoff, the pilots initiated an extinguishing system while emergency airport crews worked to douse the flames. None of the 172 passengers was injured and the plane was eventually towed back to a boarding gate.

COMAC Announces ARJ21 Freighter Conversion Program

Chinese state-owned aerospace manufacturer COMAC has obtained airworthiness approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for its ARJ21 passenger-to-freighter conversion program.

The conversion project began in May 2020 and went through the preliminary design, modification implementation, design freeze, and final design stages before obtaining airworthiness approval.

The cargo-converted ARJ21 aims to become the leading regional air cargo market aircraft. Each ARJ21 freighter will be able to carry a maximum commercial cargo of 10 tons and its hold will be able to accommodate different types of standard pallets (ULD). Furthermore, the main cargo door will be electrically powered.

“ARJ21 passenger-to-cargo conversion is committed to becoming the main model in the regional air cargo market, with a maximum commercial load of 10 tons, safe, reliable, flexible and convenient, high volume utilization rate, good universality of ULDs, and meeting different standard sizes.”


The aircraft will also have advanced monitoring and warning, and specially designed fire suppression and air conditioning systems. However, COMAC has not specified when the first ARJ21 passenger aircraft will be converted into a cargo aircraft.

Last Boeing 747 Emerges From Paint Shop

Vistara Celebrates Eight-Year Anniversary With Special Flight

Antonov AN-26 Rear Door Opens Midflight


Little Mud on the Tires

Feature Image: N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons