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Southwest postpones Boeing 737 Max jets' return through March

Megan Henney

Southwest Airlines has delayed the use of the Boeing 737 Max jet, which was involved in two deadly crashes, for another month.

"Based on continued uncertainty around the timing of MAX return to service, the company soon plans to proactively remove the MAX from its flight schedule through March 6, 2020," Southwest said in a statement on Friday.

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The revision will remove an estimated 175 weekday flights from its schedule out of roughly 4,000 daily flights. Southwest previously grounded its 737 Max fleet until Feb. 8.

Southwest is the American carrier with the most exposure to the Max. Last year, the company added 18 Max aircraft to its fleet.

A total of 346 people were killed in the crashes, resulting in a worldwide grounding of the Max.

The jet’s flight control system -- including the so-called MCAS anti-stall system -- played a role in the crashes of both the Ethiopian Airlines flight in March this year and in the Lion Air flight in October last year. In both cases, pilots had mere seconds to fight the MCAS function, which automatically forces the plane’s nose downward, after it was accidentally triggered.

The world’s largest aerospace company is currently facing multiple lawsuits in both crashes, including one that alleges Boeing concealed problems and refused to ground the plane on its own.

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