FAA grounds all Boeing 737 Max planes effective immediately

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President Trump announced Wednesday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is grounding all Boeing 737 Max planes “effective immediately,” following the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people, including eight Americans. All planes in the air at the time of the agency’s order were allowed to reach their destinations but prohibited from taking off again, the FAA said in a subsequent statement.

The cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash has not yet been determined, but the incident marked the second time in five months a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed within minutes of takeoff. A Max 8 jet operated by Lion Airlines crashed in Indonesia in October 2018, killing 189 people.

The FAA said the order grounding the plane “will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders.” In addition to grounding flights in the U.S., the order also prohibits all Max planes from entering U.S. airspace.

“The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today,” the agency said. “This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.”

Mr. Trump explained the decision was reached after new information came to light, and federal aviation officials and Boeing leadership agreed with the move. The U.S. decision to ground the planes comes as other nations have already grounded the fleet, and as the U.S. was under mounting pressure to follow suit. Canada banned Max aircraft from its airspace Wednesday, also citing new but unspecified information.

“We’re going to be issuing an emergency order to ground all flights of the 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9, and planes associated with that line,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Roosevelt Room. “I’ve spoken to Elaine Chao, secretary of transportation, Dan Elwell, acting administrator of the FAA, and to Dennis Muellenberg, CEO of Boeing … They are all in agreement with the action. Any plane currently in the air will go to its destination and thereafter be grounded until further notice. So planes that are in the air will be grounded if they’re the 737 Max, will be grounded upon landing at the destination.”

The president said the U.S. didn’t have to ground the planes, but it was important to do so for “psychological” reasons, among other reasons.

“It’s a terrible, terrible thing,” the president said of the recent crash. “Boeing is an incredible company they are working very very hard right now, and hopefully they’ll very quickly come up with the answer, but until they do the planes are grounded.”

“Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX,” Boeing said. “However, after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and its customers around the world, Boeing has determined — out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety — to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft.”

Now, airlines — and passengers — are dealing with the fallout of the decision.

American Airlines issued a statement immediately after the president’s announcement confirming the Boeing 737 Max fleet will be grounded, and all flights will be rebooked as soon as possible.

“Earlier today the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) informed us that based on new information, they are grounding the United States Boeing 737 MAX fleet out of an abundance of caution,” American Airlines said in its statement. “American Airlines has 24 aircraft affected by this directive. We appreciate the FAA’s partnership, and will continue to work closely with them, the Department of Transportation, National Transportation Safety Board and other regulatory authorities, as well as our aircraft and engine manufacturers. Our teams will be working to rebook customers as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.”