U.S. Grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 Planes After Ethiopian Airlines Crash (Video)
This story has been updated with information on the U.S. grounding the planes.
In the days following the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people onboard, more than 40 countries around the world have grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. The aircraft is under intense scrutiny for having been involved in two fatal crashes within five months.
On Wednesday, President Trump announced there would be an “emergency order to ground all 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9, and planes associated with that line.” CNN reports the FAA will be making an announcement shortly.
Unions representing flight attendants and other aviation workers asked U.S. airlines on Tuesday to consider grounding their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. A senator wrote a letter to American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines asking them to consider a temporary grounding.
Prior to Wednesday's announcement, the FAA had said there was no basis to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.
“Our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft,” the FAA said in a statement on Tuesday. “Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.”
The three U.S. airlines that had been continuing to use the plane — American, Southwest and United — have all said that they are confident in the plane’s airworthiness and will continue flights.
“Based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators,” Boeing said in a statement.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Allied Pilots Association (representing 15,000 American Airlines pilots) said it “remains confident in the Boeing 737 Max and in our members’ ability to safely fly it.”
The Dallas Morning News found five complaints in a federal database where pilots can register complaints about aircraft. The complaints detailed problems with the aircraft’s autopilot system, all occuring during the ascent after takeoff.
“The American aviation industry has a long history of safety and excellence, due in part to the trust passengers and their families can place in the air carriers and operators,” Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal wrote in a letter to U.S. airlines on Tuesday. “The common sense step now – until we have answers – is to ground these planes.”
On Wednesday, Canada issued a temporary grounding of all Boeing 737 Max aircraft. Norwegian Airlines CEO Bjørn Kjos issued an apology to customers affected by the airline’s grounding of the 737 Max aircraft. “Many have asked questions about how this affects our financial situation,” he said in the video. “it is quite obvious that we will not take the course related to the new aircraft that we have to park temporarily. We will send this bill to those who produce this aircraft.”
In October 2018, a Lion Air flight aboard a Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed into the Java Sea, killing everyone onboard. Following the crash and investigation, the FAA released an airworthiness directive, saying, “This condition, if not addressed, could cause the flight crew to have difficulty controlling the airplane, and lead to excessive nose-down attitude, significant altitude loss, and possible impact with terrain."
Officials have not yet determined the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Passengers with upcoming flights can search for itineraries that avoid travel in the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. Southwest Airlines spokesperson Dan Landson told CNBC the airline will “waive fare differences that might normally apply” for travelers who wish to “rebook their flight to another aircraft type.”