Fri, Oct 11, 2019 - Page 10 News List

AA postponing 737 MAX flights to mid-January

Reuters, WASHINGTON

American Airlines Group Inc (AA) on Wednesday said it is extending cancelations of Boeing 737 MAX flights through Jan. 15, as regulators continue to extensively review proposed software changes to the grounded plane.

The largest US airline, which had previously canceled about 140 flights a day through Dec. 3, said it expects to gradually resume MAX flights starting on Jan. 16.

The company said it believes the software updates would lead to the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) “recertification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020.”

The FAA said it “is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service. The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when it is deemed safe to do so.”

The fast-selling 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since mid-March while Boeing updates flight control software at the center of two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which together killed 346 people within a span of five months.

Among other US airlines that operate the MAX, Southwest Airlines Co has canceled flights through Jan. 5 and United Airlines Holdings Inc until Dec. 19.

An ongoing regulatory safety review means a key 737 MAX certification test flight is unlikely before next month, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Boeing has repeatedly said it hopes to resume flights in the fourth quarter, which began on Tuesday last week.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson last month said the agency would need about a month following the yet-to-be scheduled certification test flight before the planes could return to service.

Boeing plans to revise the 737 MAX software to take input from both of its angle-of-attack sensors in the anti-stall system linked to the two deadly crashes and has added additional safeguards.

It is also addressing a flaw discovered in the software architecture of the 737 MAX flight-control system that involves using and receiving input from the plane’s two flight control computers rather than one.

American Airlines, with 24 MAX jets at the time of the grounding and dozens more on order, said it expects to resume about 20 MAX flights a day in mid-January and plans to slowly return the MAX into commercial service throughout January and into February.

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