American Airlines Plans Boeing 737 Max Customer Visits To Boost Confidence In Ground Jet

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American Airlines is planning customer visits of the Boeing 737 Max and calling its pilots in the coming weeks to boost public confidence in the plane after two fatal crashes.The jets were grounded around the world over a year and a half ago after the two crashes – Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March 2019. The 346 people on board the flights were killed.

Following repeated setbacks, the Federal Aviation Administration is at the end of its recertification process for jets although it has not officially approved the planes.

“The FAA continues to follow a thorough process, not a prescribed timetable, to return the aircraft to service,” he said in a statement.

Boeing made several changes to the aircraft software, including making a flight control system that the pilots fought against in both crashes less aggressive.

“We’re seeing that finish line approaching us and I think it’s a real finish line,” David Seymour, chief operating officer of American Airlines, said in a public meeting last week, which has been reviewed by CNBC.

The Fort Worth-based airline plans to begin flights with employees after Thanksgiving, estimating the FAA will lift the flight ban in mid-November, Seymour said. An American Airlines spokesperson said the company’s plans were tentative, based on the FAA’s decision.

Last week, the Americans said they were planning the first 737 Max flights since the plane’s grounding for some flights between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and its Miami hub from December 29 to January 4.

American plans to offer some customers a chance after Thanksgiving to see the plane in person at airports, including Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport, LaGuardia and Miami, with the participation of pilots and mechanics. Pilots can also answer customer questions through calls and video messages, the company said.

“They’re the ones who… really have the credibility to explain the Max,” said Alison Taylor, director of US clientele, at City Hall of Employees.

Customers who booked on the 737 Max will receive notifications and can switch to another flight if they don’t feel comfortable, Taylor said.

The union representing American pilots has warned against promoting the return of planes.

“There are 346 reasons to be respectful and not to run a public relations campaign,” said Dennis Tajer, spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association and commander of a Boeing 737. “When the Max is fixed. , fully controlled and we have been well trained, then it will be time to just go and fly the jet. ”

U.S. Boeing 737 pilots can sign up for the December training sessions, which will include virtual training that will likely last around an hour and 40 minutes or so in a flight simulator, the union told its members last week. .

The plane grounding plunged Boeing into its biggest crisis in history, which was then made worse by the coronavirus pandemic’s toll on air travel.

U.S. airlines alone lost more than $ 10 billion in the third quarter, and carriers around the world canceled hundreds of 737 Max planes. American, which had 24,737 Max in its fleet at the time of the grounding in March 2019, has reached a deal with Boeing that would allow the airline to postpone orders for 18 more until 2024.

United Airlines commercial director Andrew Nocella said earlier this month in a call for results that the airline would put planes back on its schedule “probably next year based on the schedule we hear from the FAA. and Boeing ”.

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly told CNBC last week that the airline has not scheduled any new Max flights because it has still not been cleared to fly. Kelly did estimate, however, that he could return in the second quarter of 2021.

Boeing is expected to release its third quarter results before the market opens on Wednesday, when it will detail the financial impact of Covid-19 on demand for aircraft and the final steps to get the Max flying again.

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