It’s been a long wait. After years of delays, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) today issued the Chinese type certification certificate for the Boeing 787-8.

A team from China Southern is currently in Seattle undertaking preparatory work and customer acceptance flights before formally accepting the carrier’s first 787 LN 34, registered B-2725, on or before May 28. Hainan Airlines will follow, taking delivery of its first 787-8 in June.

The opaque nature of Chinese bureaucracy has muddied the official reason behind the CAAC’s delay in issuing the Chinese type certificate. Industry sources suggest that the 787 type certificate was ready for issue in late 2011, however due to development delays the preparatory work expired before the 787 could enter service under the old certificate. It is also suggested that Air China’s political connections in Beijing played a hand in delaying the paperwork, waving their magic wand to reduce the competitive pressure on the Chinese flag carrier which couldn’t secure early delivery positions for its 787-9 order, and didn’t order the A380.

Each carrier holds orders for ten 787-8s; China Southern will receive five aircraft, and Hainan seven, by the end of 2013.

Image: China Southern Airlines.

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*This post has been amended as we mistakenly wrote Air China had not ordered the 787. Air China has 15 787-9s on order. Thanks to one of our readers for pointing this out.