This afternoon, President Trump announced that the United States is grounding the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, days after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed, killing 157 people. With this being the second Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed in six months, the United States is following the likes of China and Canada and grounding their fleet. The president announced that the grounding of 737s will be “effective immediately.”
“The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern,” President Trump said.
Minutes later, the FAA — which stood with Boeing as other nations raced to ground flights — released a statement of their own.
Daniel Elwell, head of the FAA and an appointee of the president, spoke to reporters on the decision, saying:
Since this accident occurred we were resolute that we would not take action until we had data. That data coalesced today. [New data] added fidelity — missing pieces that we did not have prior to today.
I can’t and I don’t want to hazard a guess as to how long. My hope is that the FAA, the carriers, the manufacturer, that all parties will work very hard to make this grounding as short as possible so that these airplanes can get back up into the sky.
According to CNBC, 74 of the 350 Boeing 737 Max jets in the world are part of U.S. airline fleets including, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Southwest Airlines. The U.S. joins China, Singapore, The Netherlands, the U.K., Iceland, Germany, and Canada in grounding the planes. As of now, dozens of countries have halted flights by the aircraft. Even so, Boeing is refusing to back down on the safety of the craft saying they have “full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX”.
Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. However, after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), 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.
“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,” said Dennis Muilenburg, president, CEO, Chairman of The Boeing Company.
“We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution. Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be. There is no greater priority for our company and our industry. 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 makes this recommendation and supports the decision by the FAA.
It’s not yet known what sort of delays the grounding of the fleet will create. Southwest Airlines, which operates a fleet of 34 737 Max 8 planes, has released a statement agreeing to comply with the FAA grounding and offering free rebooking for passengers. A software patch for the 737 Max series of jets is expected in April.