Southwest and United Airlines have extended the cancellation of flights with Boeing 737 Max aircraft following news that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has discovered a new defect in the aircraft's flight computer.
Southwest Airlines had previously announced that it would use the 737 Max again from September 2, as long as the aircraft was re-certified by the FAA. Now the airline says it will not use the aircraft again until at least October 1. Approximately 150 flights are removed from Southwest & # 39; s schedule of 4,000 a day.
United Airlines had canceled 737 Max flights until 3 August. But the company announced Wednesday that it would extend that cancellation until at least September 3. United must drop between 40 and 45 flights per day in July and 60 per day in August, according to a statement.
American Airlines extended its own cancellation of 737 Max flights until at least 3 September earlier this month. But the company is not moving that date (at least) after the discovery of the FAA. "Our team continues to work with the FAA, Boeing and the Allied Pilots Association," said Leslie Scott, a spokesperson for American Airlines, in an email to The edge. "At the moment I have nothing extra & # 39; s to share."
The 737 Max was grounded around the world in March after two of the planes crashed within five months, killing 346 people in total. The crashes were both related to a piece of software that Boeing had installed on the 737 Max, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS.
Boeing designed the 737 Max with larger engines to improve the aircraft's fuel efficiency – a unit of measurement that affects final operating costs, a value that is crucial in rival Airbus over market share. But the larger engines of the 737 Max had to be mounted higher and farther forward than on older 737 & # 39; s, making the device prone to storage in some situations.
MCAS had to help compensate for these differences. It was designed to recognize when the nose of the aircraft climbed too high, which was measured by taking "angle-of-attack" sensors – small, vane-like functions that measure the angle that an aircraft indicates at a given time . MCAS automatically tilts the nose down if it goes too far up.
A software fix has been ready for months, although the FAA had not yet tested the Boeing solution on the run. But this week the FAA discovered another possible shortcoming in the computer system of the 737 Max. The agency found that "data processing by an aircraft computer on the jetliner could cause the aircraft to dive in a way that pilots struggled to recover in simulator tests," Bloomberg.
The FAA asked Boeing to solve the problem, which quickly recognized the error. One Boeing officer told Reuters On Thursday, an update of the software update will only be ready in September, which means that the 737 Max may not be released until October.
If that happens, United and American Airlines must adjust their cancellations again. Both airlines said on Thursday that they are not yet making a new change.
"If we need to further adjust the schedule, we do so in advance to send our customers and team members an advanced notification," said Scott of American Airlines.
"We are still keeping our Sept 03 date right now," said Frank Benenati, United Airlines spokesperson.