The Federal Aviation Administration grounded models in Boeing’s 737 Max series earlier this month following two separate deadly crashes involving the jets, and a number of changes to aircraft software and training procedures are expected as soon as this week. In the meantime, however, American Airlines said it is canceling roughly 90 flights a day through next month that would have required operation of the 737 Max aircraft in its fleet.
“By proactively canceling these flights, we are able to provide better service to our customers with availability and rebooking options,” the company said in a statement on Sunday. American Airlines said cancellations were extended through April 24, and it is reaching out to its customers directly to alert them of changes to their planned flights.
The company said it is awaiting updates from both Boeing as well as air-safety regulation officials about resuming the operation of its 737 Max aircraft. Boeing previously said that a software fix would arrive “no later than April.”
American Airlines said earlier this month that the FAA directive affected 24 of the 737 Max 8 jets in its fleet. The carrier is one of just a handful of airlines based in the U.S. that operate the aircraft.
The FAA issued the order to ground the planes following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 409 on March 10 that killed 8 crew members and 149 passengers aboard the flight, leaving no survivors. Both it and the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in October involved Boeing 737 Max 8 jets. Investigators have said the two crashes have “clear similarities.”
On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FAA had “tentatively approved” a number of previously announced updates to both aircraft software as well training for pilots operating 737 Max jets. The updates will include changes to Boeing’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), an anti-stall system that is suspected to have been a factor in the deadly Lion Air crash last year.
“We’ve been working diligently and in close cooperation with the FAA on the software update,” a spokesperson for Boeing told Gizmodo in a statement by email on Saturday. “We are taking a comprehensive and careful approach to design, develop and test the software that will ultimately lead to certification.”
[American Airlines via CNBC]