American Airlines is extending its cancellations of about 90 daily flights by over a month. The announcement comes as Boeing’s troubled 737 Max plane remains grounded—and yet another software issue shows up.
The Boeing-made Max jets have been grounded in the United States and elsewhere since mid-March following two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Airlines that own the huge planes have been scrambling to fill some Max flights while canceling others.
Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration say Boeing needs more time to finish changes to its flight-control system. The system is suspected of playing a role in the two crashes. That means airlines must park their Max jets longer than they expected.
American Airlines, the largest U.S. airline by revenue, has 24 Max jets in its fleet. American’s reservations staff is contacting affected customers directly by email or phone about re-booking flights. “We are working to limit the impact to the smallest number of customers,” an airline statement says.
Preliminary investigations into the deadly accidents in Ethiopia and Indonesia found that faulty sensor readings triggered an automated system that pushed the plane’s nose down. Pilots of each plane struggled in vain to regain control of the plane. Sadly, 346 people died in those crashes.
Starting in mid-April, Boeing will cut production of the Max jet, its best-selling plane, to 42 from 52 planes per month. The letup will allow Boeing to focus on fixing the flight-control software regulators believe probably caused the two crashes.
The announcement to cut production came after Boeing acknowledged that a second software issue needs fixing on the Max—a discovery that explains why the aircraft maker changed its schedule for getting the planes back in the air.
(In this photo taken with a fish-eye lens, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane sits on the assembly line in a facility in Renton, Washington. Boeing is working to fix flight-control software and get its planes back in the air. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)