Boeing 737 Max jets grounded by FAA emergency order – NBC News
President Donald Trump announced an emergency order from the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday grounding Boeing 737 Max jets in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday and the Lion Air accident in October that together killed 346 people.
His announcement came as the FAA has faced mounting pressure from aviation advocates and others to ban flights of the planes pending the completion of investigations into the crash Sunday that killed 157 people and the accident in Indonesia in October in which 189 people perished.
“We’re going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9 and planes associated with that line,” Trump announced, referring to “new information and physical evidence that we’ve received” in addition to some complaints.
“Any plane currently in the air will go its destination and thereafter be grounded until further notice,” the president said. “So planes that are in the air will be grounded, if they’re the 737 Max, will be grounded upon landing at the destination.”
Airports and airlines in the U.S. that fly the Boeing jets reacted to the news Wednesday, acknowledging that grounding the planes will lead to canceled flights.
Miami International Airport said it expected 19 departures to be canceled Wednesday. Three Boeing Max 8 or Max 9s had landed by about midafternoon Wednesday, the airport’s spokesman, Greg Chin, said. “We expect about 10 more to land here today,” most of them American Airlines flights.
American said 24 of its jets will be grounded by the FAA order. “Our teams will be working to rebook customers as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience,” the airline said.
The FAA emergency order follows similar directives from a growing number of countries around the world — including Canada, European nations and China — grounding the Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft.
The Chicago-based Boeing Co. said it supported the order and had recommended that the FAA ground its entire global fleet of 371 jets that are Max 8 or Max 9 models.
“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 these jets, the aircraft manufacturing giant said.
“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,” Boeing said.
A Democratic senator on the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee said he believes the recent government shutdown played a part in a delay of the installation of new, enhanced safety software in the Boeing jets.
“The government shutdown absolutely aggravated and exacerbated the failures of the FAA,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said, referring to the agency’s timetable for installing the new software after the October accident in Indonesia.
“The airline should be held accountable,” the senator added. “They had the new software; they knew of problema with the censors” on the jets.
Prior to Trump’s announcement, Canada was the latest country to ground the Max 8 and Max 9 jets.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said earlier Wednesday that the aircraft would not be allowed to fly into his country’s airspace
“This safety notice is effective immediately, and will remain in place until further notice,” he said in a statement.
The European Union, China and Iraq, and airlines such as Aeromexico also banned flights of the Boeing Max 8 and Max 9 after Sunday’s crash, pending safety assurances.
Garneau said his country’s requirements for new procedures and training “went above and beyond the measures directed by the United States Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.”
On Wednesday, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he would be concerned about flying on a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane.
LaHood, a Republican who served in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2013, spoke with Sara Eisen on CNBC about the FAA’s decision to keep the plane flying as countries around the world have grounded the 737 Max.
“What we need to do is ground the planes, inspect the planes, and use FAA safety inspectors and Boeing safety inspectors collaborating together, figure out if there’s something wrong and if there’s not, tell the public these planes are safe,” he said.
LaHood shot back when asked if the planes should be grounded just because citizens are concerned and on what the FAA had called “speculation.”
“Well, it’s not speculation,” he said. “I’m suggesting that the agency that has the responsibility for aviation safety step up and carry out their responsibility.”
“Talk to the families of the people who went down in the Ethiopian crash,” LaHood added. “You talk to those families and you ask them if they wish those planes had been inspected — and the answer will be yes.”