UPDATE: CAAC, the Chinese aviation regulator has approved the 787 for use by the country's airlines today (5/23/13). China Southern shortly followed by Hainan should be taking delivery next week. Pilots from both carriers should be conducting customer test flights within the next few days, perhaps as early as today.
Thanks to our blog readers CX880 and Weijie Deng, a firmer picture now has emerged regarding the start of 787 deliveries to Chinese carriers. A team from China Southern Airlines is in Seattle to conduct customer flight(s) and to complete paperwork needed for delivery and payments. China's aviation regulators are expected to give its approval for its carriers to operate the 787 on May 27th and China Southern is expected to formally take delivery on May 28th. I expect China Southern to take delivery of 8 787s this year. The first one to be delivered will be ZA380 (LN 34, B-2725).
Hainan can also take delivery of up to 2 787s this month from Boeing's Charleston facility. Both ZA431 (LN 76, B-2722) and ZA433 (LN 81, B-2723) are painted and have completed Boeing test flights and await us timer inspection and test flights. It is unclear if Hainan will take both this month or one but it does appear at the least that the deliveries will be closely spaced to one another. I expect Hainan to take delivery of 6 787s this year.