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American Airlines cancels up to 500 flights

American Airlines is canceling as many as 500 flights on Tuesday to conduct additional inspections on its MD-80 airplanes, including 185 departures at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

The Fort Worth-based carrier said in a news release that the inspections are "to ensure precise and complete compliance with the Federal Aviation Administration's airworthiness directive related to the bundling of wires in the aircraft's wheel wells."

More flights are expected to be canceled tomorrow, said spokesman Tim Wagner.

The wiring is the same issue that resulted in hundreds of cancellations last month after American brought in MD-80s for re-inspections.

The Federal Aviation Administration grounded American's entire fleet after inspectors found problems during spot checks of airplanes Monday night. Of the 10 aircraft checked by federal inspectors, nine were found to have problems with the wiring in wheel wells, according to officials with the Allied Pilots Association.

American has about 300 of the planes, most widely used on midrange flights.

“We’ve been working in good faith to ensure that we are in complete compliance with this airworthiness directive,” said Gerard Arpey, American's chief executive, in a statement. “We regret and apologize that we are once again causing inconvenience to our customers, but we will continue to work in good faith until we satisfy all of the technical issues related to this airworthiness directive.”

Customers flying Tuesday or Wednesday should check with the airline on the status of their flight. American said it will re-accommodate customers on other flights or other airlines.

The FAA has raised additional questions about last month's inspections of wiring in the wheel wells of the MD-80s.

"Specifically, some areas of concern included the spacing of the ties on the wiring bundle and the direction in which the retention clips and lacing cords were facing," the airline said in a written statement.

Each aircraft will be reviewed by a team of technicians, engineers and inspectors. Any plane that doesn't meet the requirements will be pulled from service.

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