American Air pulls 737 Max from schedule until December

Airline is one of many waiting for US regulators to allow the jet to fly again

FILE - In this May 8, 2019, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 8, being built for American Airlines, makes a turn on the runway as it's readied for takeoff on a test flight in Renton, Wash. American Airlines says it is delaying the expected return date for its Boeing 737 Max jets. The airline said Sunday, Sept. 1, that while it “remains confident” that coming software updates and training will mean recertification of the aircraft this year, it is extending cancellations for Max flights through Dec. 3. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

American Airlines Group has removed the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule for another month, joining other carriers cancelling flights until December and beyond as they await approval from US regulators to fly the grounded jet.

The extension means the cancellation of 140 daily flights through to December 3, American said in a statement on Sunday. The airline “remains confident that impending software updates to the Boeing 737 Max, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing in co-ordination with our union partners, will lead to re-certification of the aircraft this year,” it said.

American announced its decision two days after United Airlines pulled the Max from flight plans until December 19. Southwest Airlines, the largest operator of the Max in the US, has taken the aircraft out of its schedule until January 5. Air Canada has also pulled the Max until January.

The Max, Boeing’s best-selling jet, has been grounded worldwide since March 13, following two crashes within five months that killed 346 people. The US Federal Aviation Administration is likely to conduct its certification flight for the Max in October, people briefed on the matter said last month. That would broadly match Boeing’s estimate that the Max will return to service early in the fourth quarter.

According to a Dow Jones report, friction between Boeing and regulators worldwide may keep the Max grounded into the Christmas holiday travel season. Aviation authorities, including those from Europe, Brazil and the US, have complained that Boeing has failed to provide technical details about modifications to the Max's flight control computers, Dow Jones said, citing government and pilot union officials.

The complaints stemmed from a Boeing meeting last month in Seattle which was cut short by regulators, Dow Jones said. Boeing will have to resubmit documents describing proposed software changes, which must then be vetted by the FAA, the report said. A Boeing spokesman declined to comment on the meeting to Dow Jones.