Air travel authorities all over the world have been carefully scrutinizing the Boeing 737 Max airliner since Sunday, when such an aircraft operated by Ethiopian Airlines tragically crashed. Today it was announced that the United States’s fleet of these planes will be temporarily grounded along with those of other nations.
This decision was announced after President Trump met with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration Daniel Elwell, according to CNBC which also quoted the president as saying: “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,” to reporters at the White House on Wednesday.
CNBC and other news outlets have also published this statement from the FAA:
“The FAA is ordering the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory. The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today. This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.
The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders. An FAA team is in Ethiopia assisting the NTSB as parties to the investigation of the Flight 302 accident. The agency will continue to investigate.”
Some 74 Boeing 737 MAX jets are operated by U.S.-based airlines including United, American Airlines, and Southwest.
Boeing issued a statement as well, from the desk of its CEO:
“On behalf of the entire Boeing team, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in these two tragic accidents. We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again.”
The United States was far from the first country to issue an order grounding these airplanes, and CNBC posited a theory that “federal officials may have obtained new information from the doomed Ethiopian Airlines plane that went down Sunday,” which does seem plausible.
The Ethiopian Airlines crash is particularly concerning not only because of the loss of life, but because of apparent similarities between this crash and one in October of the same type of plane operated by Lion Air, which crashed off the coast of Indonesia.