American Airlines is giving serious consideration to the role its Boeing 757s will play in its long-term fleet plan as the carrier's chief executive says it faces challenges with the aircraft's economics.

"It is fair to say we are struggling with the economics of the 757 fleet in light of some of the contractual issues we have with suppliers," says chief executive Gerard Arpey.

The airline, which operates 124 Rolls-Royce RB211-powered 757-200s retrofitted with Aviation Partners Boeing blended winglets, has previously indicated that it could be interested in replacing the twinjets with the 737-900ER.


"We're trying to figure out the best plan forward in terms of our narrowbody footprint under our long-term fleet plan and trying to figure out exactly where the 757 is going to land," says Arpey.

He gives no indication about the outcome of the 757 evaluation, saying: "I don't know where we'll end up." However, to highlight the challenges of the 757 Arpey adds: "The cost per seat mile of that aircraft is troubling to us right now."

Last month American added eight 737-800 orders, bringing its total deliveries between 2009 and 2011 to 84 aircraft.

The carrier says financing is in place for all those deliveries, having completed a $520 million public offering during the second quarter.

American Airlines is investigating why the nose gear on a 767-300 retracted during a post-heavy maintenance functional test at its base at the Alliance Fort Worth airport on 15 July as it was being prepared to return to service. "No employees were hurt during the incident," says the airline.

American's maintenance operation was criticised in April by the US National Transportation Safety Board for using "inappropriate" maintenance procedures that were found to be a cause of an in-flight engine fire that led to an emergency landing of a Boeing MD-82 in St Louis in 2007.

Source: Flight International