Following the lead of Asia, Europe, and hours after Canada, the United States grounded Boeing 737 MAX planes, recently involved in two fatal crashes. Meanwhile, the investigation into Ethiopian Airlines crash that prompted massive 737 MAX groundings is moving forward, as the French BEA takes over the analysis of the flight recorders from the downed jet. The ban from the U.S. airspace was announced by President of the United States Donald Trump.
“We are going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the 737 MAX 8 and the 737 MAX 9 and planes associated with that line,“ Trump said during a press conference in the White House on March 13, 2019.
The grounding was immediately enforced, and should remain effective until further notice. “Pilots and airlines have been notified. [..] The safety of all American people is our paramount concern”.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2019
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), much like the Canadian Transport Safety Board (TSB) hours before, cited “validated satellite tracking data suggest similarities between the flight profile of ET-302 and the flight profile of Lion Air Flight 610” to justify the grounding.
In a statement, Boeing said that while they “support the action to temporarily stop the operations of the 737 MAX”, the company continues “to have full confidence in [its] safety”. According to the manufacturer, it “recommend[ed] to the FAA” this grounding in order to reassure the public.
Southwest Airlines (LUV) , which operates the largest Boeing 737 MAX fleet in the world with 34 aircraft, reacted to the grounding in a press release: “While we remain confident in the MAX 8 after completing more than 88,000 flight hours accrued over 41,000 flights, we support the actions of the FAA and other regulatory agencies and governments across the globe that have asked for further review of the data”. Southwest was the launch customer in North America for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 of which it took delivery on August 29, 2017.
The Japanese civil aviation authority and the Russian Rosaviation both announced that flights for the Boeing 737 MAX 8 were also banned from their respective airspaces on March 14, 2019. The global fleet of 357 aircraft is now grounded, pending further investigation.
The French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), part of the country’s Ministry of Transport, accepted the request for assistance from the Ethiopian authorities. The latter had declared earlier in the week that it lacked the proper equipment to analyze the data. The two flight recorders (FDR and CVR) were transferred to the BEA’s headquarters in le Bourget on March 14.