737 MAX flights now pushed to December

American Airline Group Inc said  it is extending cancellations of Boeing 737 MAX flights through December 3 but remains confident that the aircraft will be approved to fly again this year following new software and pilot training.

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

Boeing Company is targeting regulatory approval for the fixes in October, though the US Federal Aviation Administration has said it does not have a firm timeline to put the jets back in the air.

Meanwhile, airlines that had purchased the fuel-efficient MAX have had to cancel thousands of monthly flights as they scramble to meet demand with slimmer fleets, eating in to profit and hurting some growth plans.

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Fort Worth, Texas-based American, with 24 MAX jets at the time of the grounding and dozens more on order, said it will cancel about 140 daily flights through December 3, more than the 115 daily cancellations it was making through the summer.

Travel agent

It had previously pulled its 737 MAX jets from its flight schedule through November 2. Customers whose flights are affected by the cancellations will be contacted by American or their travel agent, the carrier said.

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Among other US airlines that operate the MAX, Southwest Airlines Company has cancelled flights into early January and United Airlines until December 19. Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday a blue-ribbon panel of experts around the world will need a few more weeks to finish its review into the Boeing 737 MAX certification.

The team, which is reviewing the approval of the now grounded jet involved in two fatal crashes since October, is taking additional time to finish documenting its work and the FAA said it expects its recommendations in the coming weeks.

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Boeing Company has said it hopes to receive regulatory approval for updated flight control software at the centre of both crashes in October, but it could take a month or two for airlines to train pilots on the new software and prepare the jets for commercial flight after sitting idle for months.

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