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High anxiety: American Airlines staff ‘begging’ not to fly on 737 MAX

High anxiety: American Airlines staff ‘begging’ not to fly on 737 MAX
Some flight attendants with American Airlines remain fearful of flying the Boeing 737 MAX, despite the plane-maker nearing regulatory approval for a software update. The jet has been grounded after two fatal crashes left 346 dead.

According to the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), they want to be fully versed on what has happened and why the plane is safe to fly now. The union said it will consider information from Boeing, US regulators, American Airlines, the carrier’s pilots and others before making a final decision.

“I hear from some flight attendants every day and they are begging me to not make them go back up in that airplane,” APFA President Lori Bassani told reporters. “We want to know without a doubt that it’s safe to fly.”

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Boeing, which has been striving to end the MAX’s worldwide grounding, said this week the US Federal Aviation Administration is on track to certify its redesigned flight-control software by mid-December. The manufacturer could then start delivering new MAX jets to the world’s airlines.

American Airlines said last week it will keep Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft off its schedules until next March. The company previously said it would resume the flights by January, cancelling around 140 flights each day in the meantime.

To demonstrate the safety of the aircraft to future passengers, American plans to make “exhibition flights” with executives, workers and reporters before the plane resumes commercial service.

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American’s employees must be comfortable with the MAX before it will fly again, the company’s President Robert Isom said.

“After the FAA has given their sign of approval, after our pilots have said ‘Yes we’re ready to go,’ we intend to fly that aircraft so that our team is comfortable,” he said, adding: “So our pilots, our flight attendants, our partners, media – you name it – all of us as executives; we intend to fly that aircraft before it goes into commercial service.”

The union for flight attendants at United Airlines said it wants a global consensus on the plane’s safety before its members will work again on the MAX.

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