The United States today grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 airplanes, joining other nations around the world in ordering the aircraft out of the skies following Sunday’s crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the temporary grounding of all MAX airplanes operated by U.S. airlines or being flown in U.S. airspace and said the decision was “a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today.”
The agency did not elaborate on what that evidence was.
The FAA said the airplanes would remain grounded pending further investigation of the Ethiopian accident, including the examination of Flight 302’s flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.
The Ethiopian Airlines crash, shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killed all 157 people in the airplane.
The FAA announcement came hours after a similar statement from Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau, who also cited today’s new evidence. Canada and the United States were the last two countries still permitting the airplanes to fly. Civil aviation authorities in a number of other countries, in a flurry of announcements since Sunday’s crash, had issued their own grounding orders.
In grounding the MAX aircraft, civil aviation authorities have cited not only the Ethiopian Airlines crash but also the Oct. 29, 2018, crash of Lion Air Flight 610, another 737 Max 8, into the Java Sea following takeoff from Jakarta-Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Indonesia. All 189 passengers and crew were killed.
In both instances, the pilots had told air traffic controllers that they were having difficulty controlling the airplanes.
A statement released by Boeing said that, although the company “continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX,” it supports the grounding orders “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety.”
The statement added that Boeing is “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.”
Flight Safety Foundation President and CEO Dr. Hassan Shahidi released a statement on the grounding.