NEW YORK, Mar 14 (APP):In another hit at Boeing’s reputation, the U.S. finally joined the rest of the world in grounding the 737 MAX 8, the company’s prized jet that is now barred from skies worldwide.
The U.S. had been the last holdout, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) saying that it stood by the aircraft’s safety. But President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that an emergency order would be issued banning flights by not only the MAX 8, involved in the two recent crashes but also the slightly larger 737 MAX 9.
The crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on Sunday came less than five months after a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 — the same type of plane — plunged into the Java Sea minutes into the flight from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board. Both planes were new, delivered from Boeing just months before their doomed flights.
The FAA said the grounding will remain in effect while it investigates the crash.
“An FAA team is in Ethiopia assisting the NTSB as parties to the investigation of the Flight 302 accident,” it said in a statement.
New satellite data shows the plane’s movement was similar to the October crash, the FAA’s acting Administrator Daniel Elwell told reporters on a call Wednesday. The agency also took physical evidence into account, but Elwell declined to elaborate.
“It became clear the track was very close and behaved similarly to the Lion Air flight,” Elwell told reporters on a call Wednesday. “My hope is the FAA, the carriers, the manufacturers and all parties will work very hard to make this grounding as short as possible so that these airplanes can get back up in the sky.”
The agency did not have enough data to warrant grounding the planes earlier, he said. “We are a fact-driven, a data-based organization,” said Elwell. “Since this accident occurred we were resolute in our decision that we would not take action until we had data to support taking action. That data coalesced today and we made the call.”
The Ethiopian Airlines plane’s black boxes, which contain flight data and cockpit voice recordings, will be sent to France for analysis this week, he added.