Boeing announced on Wednesday it would be recommending the grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes globally “out of an abundance of caution.”
But the move hasn’t stopped countries taking matters into their own hands, with Mexico, Panama and Thailand all subsequently announcing they would be suspending Boeing 737 Max jets temporarily.
In total, 50 countries have now grounded or banned the controversial Max 8 models which were involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday.
US President Donald Trump has also announced an emergency order to ground the Boeing 737 Max fleet, making the US the last major country to do so after two of the aircraft crashed in a six month span.
“We’re going to be issuing an emergency order … to ground all flights of Boeing737 Max 8 and 737 Max 9 and planes associated with that line,” Mr Trump said during a meeting in the White House.
In his remarks, Mr Trump said that any affected aircraft currently in US air space would be held on the ground once they land. Boeing, soon after, announced that it would be grounding its fleet worldwide out of an “abundance of caution”.
“The FAA is ordering the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by US airlines or in US territory. The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analysed today,” the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement following the president’s announcement. “This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.”
Mr Trump, who had come under pressure to ground the planes after it was reported that he had spoken about the crashes with the CEO of Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg, said that the aerospace company is working to fix the issue.
“Boeing is an incredible company. They are working very, very hard right now. Hopefully they will very quickly come up with the answer but until they do the planes will be grounded,” Mr Trump said.
The US president’s decision follows just hours after Canada grounded its fleet of the planes, and a day after the European Union did so. China, Australia, India and the UK have also grounded the aircraft. Shortly after the UK banned the aircraft on Tuesday, two Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 MAX jets bound for Gatwick and Birmingham turned around in mid-air and headed back to Istanbul.
American Airlines said its teams were working to rebook customers due to fly on its 737 Max. The company operates 24 737 MAX aircraft. Norwegian Air Shuttles says it will seek compensation from Boeing after the low-cost carrier grounded its fleet of 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
Carrier spokeswoman Tonje Naess said that the Oslo-based airline “should not have any financial burden for a brand new aircraft that will not to be used.” Before announcing that the FAA would be grounding the Boeing jets, Mr Trump had lashed out on Twitter saying that planes are becoming too complex.
“Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better. Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger,” Mr Trump wrote.
He continued: “All of this for great cost yet very little gain. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!”
The groundings across the globe follow the crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plane in Ethiopia over the weekend, killing all 157 people on board. The passengers were from at least 32 countries, and there were at least 22 United Nations employees on board.
Five months earlier in October, a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8, went down in Indonesia, killing 157 people.
In a statement released on Monday night, Boeing said that it had been creating an emergency update for the planes since the Lion Air crash, and that the FAA had been set to approve those changes by April.
“For the past several months and in the aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610, Boeing has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer,” the statement says.
Following Mr Trump’s announcement, the aerospace company said that it supports the decision to ground the planes in the US.
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