American cancels hundreds of flights

World's No. 1 airline sidelines even more MD-80s, an older jet that makes up 45% of its fleet, for safety checks.

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By David Goldman, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- American Airlines said it would cancel nearly 500 flights Tuesday as it again performs detailed inspections of a key aircraft model.

A statement from American said that the inspections pertain to questions raised by the Federal Aviation Administration and American safety officials about how a certain bundle of wires is secured to the MD-80 aircraft. Airline spokesman Roger Frizzell said the inspections are technical compliance issues and not related to flight safety.

"We're apologetic for the issues this is causing customers, Frizzell said. "In some situations these adjustments will take only 15 minutes."

American stated it would cancel upwards of 500 flights Tuesday with additional cancellations likely Wednesday. By about 6:00 p.m. ET, American had already cancelled 409 flights, according to FlightStats, an independent flight tracking service.

By comparison to Monday's total cancellations, FlightStats reported that American scratched only 108 flights on Tuesday for typical reasons.

Second fix. The FAA ordered similar inspections last month that resulted in the cancellation of over 300 American Airlines flights. The FAA raised additional concerns and ordered a new round of inspections Tuesday regarding the manner in which American followed a specific directive in the previous inspections, the airline reported.

American (AMR, Fortune 500), a unit of AMR Corp., is the world's largest airline based on miles flown by paying passengers.

The MD-80 is the workhorse of the American fleet. American's Web site says the aircraft accounts for 300 of the airline's fleet of 655 jets.

The jet debuted in 1980 from McDonnell-Douglas, which was purchased by rival Boeing in 1997. Boeing (BA, Fortune 500) discontinued production of the aircraft in 1999. It says American is the largest operator of the aircraft.

The MD-80 issue is completely separate from a directive from the the FAA late Tuesday to the nation's airlines to inspect their older Boeing 737 jets for a problem with a bolt that causes fuel leaks. The problem has been linked to an August 2007 fire that destroyed a China Airlines 737 on the ground in Okinawa, Japan. To top of page

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