President Donald Trump says the U.S. is issuing an emergency order grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft in the wake of a crash of an Ethiopian Airliner that killed 157 people. (March 13)
President Donald Trump issued an emergency order immediately grounding Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts across the nation Wednesday, the U.S. becoming the last nation to ground the popular planes.
Trump made the announcement hours after Canada joined the vast majority of the world in closing its airspace to the planes, two of which have crashed in the last five months, killing more than 300 people.
Trump said flights already in the air would complete their flights but that no more would take off. He said airlines had been notified.
“The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern,” Trump said. “Boeing is an incredible company. They are working very, very hard right now and hopefully they will very quickly come up with an answer. But until they do the planes are grounded.”
The fleet began flying two years ago and already includes 74 domestic planes among almost 400 worldwide. Airlines have ordered more than 4,500 of the jetliners, the newest version of the 737 and best-selling airliner ever.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau had cited newly obtained satellite data that he said show a possible similarity in the crashes.
“This is not conclusive, but it is something that points in that direction,” Garneau said. “It could be something else.”
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At least one airline wants compensation from Boeing for the cost of parking the jets. Norwegian Air Shuttles spokeswoman Tonje Naess said the carrier, which flies 18 of the planes, should not face “any financial burden for a brand new aircraft that will not to be used.” It was not immediately clear what those costs might be or what Boeing might be pressed to pay.
In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration had stood by the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX on Tuesday, saying it hasn’t found any issues at fault with the jetliner that would merit a grounding order.
Records show that federal aviation authorities received at least 11 reports concerning perceived safety problems with the aircraft. Two pilots reported their planes unexpectedly pitched nose down after engaging autopilot following departure. Another pilot reported a “temporary level off” triggered by the aircraft automation.
The captain of a November 2018 flight called part of the aircraft’s flight manual “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient.”
From the flight manual: Why pilots have complained about the 737 MAX 8
In the U.S., Southwest and American fly the plane, and both had expressed confidence in their fleets.
The MAX 8 that crashed Sunday was 4 months old and minutes into a Nairobi-bound flight from Addis Ababa on Sunday when it slammed into a field. In October, a Lion Air plane of the same model crashed into the Java Sea, minutes after departing from Jakarta, Indonesia. None of the 189 passengers and crew survived.
Both flights crashed following drastic speed fluctuations during ascent. Both pilots made ill-fated efforts to to return to their airport of origin after takeoff. The FAA said it expects to require Boeing to complete MAX 8 flight control system enhancements – prompted by the Lion Air crash – by month’s end.
In the U.S., some members of Congress and two unions representing flight attendants had called on the FAA to ground the planes.
The plane involved in Sunday’s crash was delivered to the airline in November, had flown 1,200 hours and had undergone a maintenance check Feb. 4. The pilot, who had more than 8,000 hours of flight experience, had issued a distress call and tried to return to the airport.
The black box voice and data recorders were found, and airline CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told CNN the pilots told air traffic control they were having “flight control problems.”
Ethiopian Airlines spokesman Asrat Begashaw said the equipment will be shipped to an undisclosed European country for analysis.
Contributing: Chris Woodyard, Bart Jansen, Gus Garcia-Roberts, Steve Reilly and Alison Young; The Associated Press
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