American Airlines extends Boeing 737 Max flight cancellations through late April

American Airlines extends Boeing 737 Max flight cancellations through late April

Investigators believe the crash may have been caused by a software error that is believed to have caused the fatal crash of another 737 MAX 8 in October.

On Friday, CNN said in a report that pilots from Southwest Airlines and American Airlines took courses lasting between 56 minutes and three hours when moving between the two Boeing models.

The pilots of the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 that crashed on March 10, killing all 189 people on board, used a flight simulator to learn how to fly the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane, the flag carrier told CNN.

This month, a second deadly crash involving an Ethiopian Airlines MAX in Addis Ababa triggered the fleet's worldwide grounding.

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines Co, the world's largest operator of the MAX, began parking its fleet at a facility in Victorville, California, at the southwestern edge of the Mojave Desert, to wait out the global grounding.

Acting administrator Dan Elwell told lawmakers last week that the FAA expected Boeing would complete its upgrade as early as March 25, kicking off the approval process.

The FAA demanded the software fixes be completed "no later than April" and says it will evaluate the software fixes next week.

A USA official briefed on the matter Saturday said the FAA has not yet signed off on the upgrade and training but the goal is to review them in coming weeks and approve them by April.

The sources said Boeing was due to present the patch to officials and pilots of U.S. airlines American, Southwest and United in Renton, Washington state, where the craft is assembled.

"We expect the software fix early next week; and we will evaluate it at the time", an FAA spokesman said Saturday, drawing a contrast to earlier Boeing statements that characterized the move as a "software enhancement" created to "make an already safe aircraft even safer".

The spokesman also said the new software would also prevent the plane's automated system from pointing the nose of the plane too far downward, something that is meant to prevent the plane from overreacting to bad flight data.

Boeing's planned software update for the Max must "address the problem 100 percent before we return the aircraft to air", he said, noting that the airline hasn't made a decision on whether or not to cancel orders for Max jets. It also included some self-guided instruction, the official added.

Southwest and its SWAPA pilots union "have subject matter experts from our Technical Pilot Team and Training Teams headed to Boeing to review documentation and training associated with the modification to the B737 speed trim system", a spokeswoman said.

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