US President Donald Trump has decided to ground all Boeing 737 Max airplanes, citing safety concerns after the fatal crash in Ethiopia. The US was among the last holdovers in grounding the controversial jet.
US and Canadian aviation safety officials resisted pressure from Congress and labor unions to halt operation of the the Boeing 737 Max 8 while investigators work to find the cause of the crash. Regulators in the European Union, the United Kingdom, China, Australia and India have restricted the planes from flying. The latest bans came from Egypt, Thailand and Vietnam on Wednesday.
However, Canada broke away on Wednesday to join a growing list of nations that have grounded a Boeing-made aircraft.
Canada’s transportation minister Marc Garneau said the decision to issue a “safety notice” was based on a review of newly available satellite tracking data, which identified similarities between the crash in Ethiopia and the one last year in Indonesia.
Garneau cautioned that the information is “not conclusive” but that “at this point we feel that threshold has been crossed”.
But the FAA and Boeing are standing by the planes.
“Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft,” said Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell in a statement.
Boeing CEO, Dennis Muilenburg spoke with Donald Trump by phone to assure him the planes were safe. The call came after the president complained on Twitter that airplanes have become “far too complex to fly” and suggested that “pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT.”
The two US airline carriers that fly the plane – Southwest Airlines and American Airlines – both expressed confidence in the aircraft.
But Trump said he was grounding all flights on both models (Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9) – ‘effective immediately’ – in an emergency announcement on Wednesday afternoon.
Any plane that is currently in the air will be allowed to land, and then the planes will be grounded until further notice, he said.
Trump said he made the decision following conversations with Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary, and the airline companies, he said, after new information emerged on the tragic crash.