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American Airlines CEO commits to 737 Max fleet once it's fixed

In an exclusive interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, American Airlines Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said that “there is an absolute fix” for the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
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American Airlines, whose Boeing 737 Max fleet was grounded, along with the rest of the worldwide Max fleet in the wake of two fatal crashes involving two carriers in Ethiopia and Indonesia, is committed to the planes once they are recertified by the Federal Aviation Administration.

In an exclusive interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, AA Chairman and CEO Doug Parker said that “there is an absolute fix” for the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

“There's one that we will all be comfortable with, or the aircraft won't be recertified. And our pilots are gonna agree with that, or the aircraft won't fly," Parker said in his first television interview since the planes were grounded.

American Airlines' fleet of 24 Boeing 737 Max 8 was grounded by the FAA in March. American, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines are the only three airlines in the United States that operate the aircraft.

American has canceled all Boeing 737 Max flights through August 19, approximately 115 flights per day.

In March, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane, crashed shortly after takeoff en route to Nairobi, killing all 157 on board, including eight Americans. Lion Air flight JT610, on a brand new Boeing 737 Max 8, crashed after takeoff from Jakarta last October with 189 passengers and crew.

Investigators believe both crashes were caused by an anti-stall system called MCAS.

Parker admits restoring confidence in the flying public is a challenge, even after the plane is approved to return to flight.

“Accidents like this, tragedies like this, are you know horrific,” he said. “Now in our case, we’ve always believed that, that airplane with our pilots, with our training was an airworthy aircraft. But we're not, we're not, it’s not for us to decide whether or not the aircraft flies. It needs to be safe for everyone.”

The FAA has invited civil aviation authorities around the world to meet Thursday to discuss the agency’s safety analysis and plan to return the Boeing 737 Max fleet to service. Parker said his pilots are heavily involved with discussions with the FAA about required training for pilots.

Boeing says it has completed the updated MCAS software for the 737 Max but is yet to complete a test flight with FAA pilots on board.

“It's incredibly important to us, that we get to a point where the entire aircraft aviation community feels comfortable that this airplane is ready to get back in the air. And when it is, we'll be flying in it,” Parker said.

“If that airplane has been certified by the FAA, and it's being flown by American pilots or Southwest pilots or United pilots, we all will know that it's 100 percent safe to fly," he said.

As one of the largest airlines in the world, American Airlines and its regional partner American Eagle, offer almost 6,700 flights to 350 destinations in more than 50 countries daily. The airline says it is investing in new planes, entertainment systems and satellite Wi-Fi, available soon on all domestic flights, that will allow everyone on the aircraft to stream live television.

“Now with satellite, which has much more bandwidth, allows everyone to actually have a new level of service. Customers that experience that don't want to go back,” Parker said. “But in general, what our customers really, really value, always have and always will, is reliability. Aircraft that are ready to go on time and that arrive at their destinations on time, allow people to make connections.”

Parker said that American Airlines will continue to make the passenger experience a top investment.

“What you're gonna see as we move forward is us competing much more on product, than you've ever seen before,” he said. “We're in an arms race basically of airlines trying to figure out what we can do for our customers.”