American Airlines Group Inc said on Wednesday it was extending cancellation of Boeing 737 MAX flights to January 15 next year as regulators continue to extensively review proposed software changes to the grounded plane.
The largest U.S. airline, which had previously cancelled about 140 flights a day through December 3, said it expected to gradually resume MAX flights starting on January 16.
American said it believed the software updates would lead to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) “re-certification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020.”
The FAA said it is “is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service.
The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when it is deemed safe to do so.”
The fast-selling 737 MAX has been grounded worldwide since mid-March, while Boeing updates flight control software at the centre of two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that together killed 346 people within a span of five months.
Among other U.S. airlines that operate the MAX, Southwest Airlines Co has cancelled flights through Jan. 5 and United Airlines Holdings Inc until December 19.
An ongoing regulatory safety review means a key 737 MAX certification test flight is unlikely before November, Reuters reported, Tuesday.
Boeing has repeatedly said it hopes to resume flights in the fourth quarter which began on October 1.
FAA Administrator, Steve Dickson, told Reuters in September that the agency would need about a month following the yet-to-be scheduled certification test flight before the planes could return to service.
Boeing plans to revise the 737 MAX software to take input from both of its angle-of-attack sensors in the anti-stall system linked to the two deadly crashes and has added additional safeguards.
Boeing is also addressing a flaw discovered in the software architecture of the 737 MAX flight-control system that involves using and receiving input from the plane’s two flight control computers rather than one.
Meanwhile, airlines that had purchased the fuel-efficient MAX have cancelled thousands of monthly flights as they scramble to meet demand with slimmer fleets, eating in to profit and hurting some growth plans.
On Monday, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association sued Boeing alleging that the plane-maker “deliberately misled” the airline and pilots about its 737 MAX aircraft.
The grounding of the 737 MAX has wiped out more than 30,000 Southwest Airlines flights, causing over 100 million dollars in lost wages for pilots, the union said.
Boeing said the suit is “meritless.”
Fort Worth, Texas-based American, with 24 MAX jets at the time of the grounding and dozens more on order, said it expects to resume about 20 MAX flights a day in mid-January and plans to slowly return the MAX into commercial service throughout January and into February.
Nigeria Saves $500,000 From Calibration Aircraft – Minister
The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said that Nigeria will be saving a lot of money from the acquisition of a custom made calibration aircraft recently acquired by the Federal Government.
Sirika who disclosed this while speaking to aviation correspondents in Abuja, Tuesday, said the purpose of the aircraft was to calibrate navigational equipment and aid the country for the purpose of flight operations.
The aircraft which is worth about $8.5 million, according to the minister, will be commercialised to generate revenue, and keep the industry safe.
“We used to have one in Nigeria, but for the last two decades, we never had any. What propelled us to procure this aircraft was that while we were reconstructing the Abuja runway, we needed to recalibrate all those landing aids. That is the standard requirement and this is to ensure they are working in perfect order.
“The last time Nigeria had such aircraft was 20 years ago under cover aviation flying unit. We did not have the capacity as a country, the only people close to us that had is ASECNA which is owned by French speaking countries, but the aircraft is domiciled in Niger.
“We approached them but they did not have a slot for us. If I hadn’t got the support of far away South Africa, we would not beat the six weeks deadline.
“Nigeria will be saving a lot of money by procuring this aircraft. I know I paid about $500,000 when our equipment was due to South African contractor to carry out the task.
“ If you say every six months, we will do this, and that would be half a million dollars every six months. So when we do it sixteen times, the value of the aircraft would have been paid. Not only that, we will commercialise it to generate revenue and keep our industry safe “, Sirika said.
The minister, however, explained that it took about nine months from when the request was made to the completion and installation of the equipment.
The Tide reports that the aircraft was built in Textron Aviation Services, Kansas in the United States, and it is expected to improve safety in the aviation industry.
PH Airport Manager Seeks Safety Awareness, Education At Airports
The Safety Manager, Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, Mr Oguche Samuel, has harped on the need for continuous awareness and education on safety at the nation’s airports.
He said the continuous safety education would create awareness to staff and stakeholders at the airports on their safety responsibilities.
Samuel disclosed this while addressing participants at the safety promotion day at the airport which focused on Foreign Object Deris (FOD),
He urged participants and staff to be good safety ambassadors in their day to day activities, stressing that safety is one of the core values of FAAN.
Meanwhile, the management of the Port Harcourt International Airport has keyed into the Airport Emergency Plan programme as plans are in full gear towards the certification of the airport.
The Tide reliably learnt that the management of the airport recently took steps in training staff in relevant departments on emergency plan.
Instructors from Accra in Ghana, it was gathered, were invited to train some of the staff of the airport in the later part of last year.
The training was aimed at developing staff capacity to effectively and efficiently handle emergency response with the certification of the airport.
FAAN Moves To Check Security Threats At Airside
Following reported cases of intrusion into airside at the nation’s airports, particularly at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos at nights, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu has taken steps to install thermal and infrared cameras for airside monitoring and patrol.
The introduction of thermal and infrared cameras is meant to monitor and expose happenings or any intruder who manages to gain access to airports, especially at nights.
FAAN, in a press statement on Tuesday, said it took the steps because anything that happens at the airside, has a ripple effect on the aviation industry.
“We are mostly particular about the airside because at the end of the day, security and safety are paramount and anything that happens at the airside has a ripple effect and we are here to ensure that our airports are safe.
FAAN posited that it is a dangerous practice to go and open aircraft cargo door because of the engine blast which might occur on the process.
“The proximity switch and the plunder could vibrate when the engine level is moved above idle running; for some seconds, the light may flash and warning light will remain off. It is even an easy thing to open the cargo door while the engine is running.
“Rotation of the handle activates a torque tube to withdraw the latch rollers from the latch fitting and as the door swings on board under tension of the door balance mechanism, the door warning proximity switch is activated to energize the appropriate door warning in the control cabin to alert the Crewe”, FAAN stated.
Enumerating other efforts being made to tackle the problem, FAAN explained that the Authority has put patrol vans fitted with cameras on the dashboard to capture the environment during patrol, saying although this might be a temporary measure.
Our correspondent reports that there were reports of incidents of intruders allegedly opening the cargo compartment of aircraft either taxing or holding on the runway, particularly at the Lagos airport, which had become a cause of concern to FAAN management.
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