American Airlines on Sunday extended cancellations of flights of Boeing 737 Max jets until September 3 in the wake of software update on the planes which were grounded in March after two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The move also suggested that the re-entry of 737 Max jets will take a longer time than was earlier expected. The three US airlines that operate Max jets, including American, Southwest and United, are awaiting a planned software update and pilot-training regimen designed to make the plane safe to fly.
A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) directive issued in March initially called for the software fix to be finished "no later than April," but the schedule slipped after an additional software issue was found and the FAA asked for further details.
American Airlines, in a release issued on Sunday, said it is "pleased with progress to date" on recertifying the plane. It has also been in frequent contact with the FAA, the Transportation Department and the National Transportation Safety Board, the airline said.
"American Airlines remains confident that impending software updates to the Boeing 737 Max, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing in coordination with our union partners, will lead to recertification of the aircraft soon," the statement read.
It added, "By extending the cancellations, our customers and team members can more reliably plan their upcoming travel on American."
The 737 Max was first introduced in May 2017. It was designed to be a newer, better version of Boeing's 737.
To make the plane more fuel-efficient, Boeing included new engines that had to be positioned differently on the jet's wings. It also added a new flight control system called the Maneuvering Characteristic Augmentation System -- known as MCAS -- to adjust the direction of the plane's nose in certain situations.
Problems arose when MCAS relied on faulty data from the plane's external sensors, pushing the plane's nose downward.
The model 737 MAX came under scrutiny following two deadly plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia within six months that claimed the lives of more than 346 people. Investigations are ongoing into both the incidents.
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