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American Airlines used a very quiet Sunday morning to announce that it is extending the cancellations of all flights set to be operated by its 737 MAX aircraft through 3 September 2019.
This isn’t the first time American Airlines has pushed back the reintroduction of the 737 MAX and I doubt it will be the last.
Here’s the main body of the American Airlines announcement….with a little added commentary from me (in blue):
American Airlines remains confident (ha!) that impending software updates to the Boeing 737 MAX (that’s the software update to stop the aircraft repeatedly overriding the pilots and plunging the aircraft into a nose-dive when a sensor fails), along with the new training elements Boeing is developing in coordination with our union partners (training elements that Boeing originally said were not necessary while, at the same time, omitting to tell everyone that the MAX had a hidden bit of software that helped control the aircraft), will lead to recertification of the aircraft soon (“soon” is a conveniently open-ended word).
We have been in continuous contact with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (the guys who failed to properly oversee the certification process of the 737 MAX the first time around), Department of Transportation (DOT) (the guys currently helping the FBI with their investigations into Boeing and the FAA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other regulatory authorities, and we are pleased with the progress to date (they may not be quite so pleased when they see how tough foreign regulatory bodies will be when it comes to the recertification of the 737 MAX).
In April, American extended cancellations for the MAX through Aug. 19 (to the great relief of a lot of flyers because it’s one of the most uncomfortable American Airlines aircraft around). We are now extending those cancellations through Sept. 3.
By extending the cancellations, our customers and team members can more reliably plan their upcoming travel on American (or customers can just book on a more reliable airline). In total, approximately 115 flights per day will be canceled through Sept. 3 (although that number may rise significantly as American Airlines sues its own mechanics).
Our Reservations and Sales teams will continue to work closely with customers who are impacted by these cancellations (hold times will be horrible).
I can’t shake the feeling that Boeing (and airlines like American) think that the only issue facing them (with regards to the MAX) is the one involving getting the aircraft re-certified and flying as soon as possible.
In reality, I suspect that there’s a big job to be done in getting the public comfortable with flying in an aircraft that’s been involved in two disasters (with no survivors) and that appears to have been cobbled together in a hurry with a strong focus on profits and very casual attitude to safety.
The two tragic disasters involving the 737 MAX aircraft have been well documented in the press and the subsequent revelations that the aircraft had to be partly self-certified by Boeing because the FAA wasn’t competent enough to certify it alone combined with the revelations that Boeing took a rushed approach to the development of the MAX, withheld information from airlines and pilots and charged extra for vital safety equipment hasn’t really instilled the public with much confidence in the aircraft.
When it comes to everyday flying I’m sure most people don’t pay attention to what aircraft are operating the flights they’re booking but, once the 737 MAX is released back into the skies, I won’t be surprised if considerably more people start taking more notice of what aircraft they’re expected to fly in and actively book away from the MAX (I know I will) – in the short to medium term that will be bad news for airlines flying the 737 MAX and it will be very bad news for Boeing.