United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said his administration was grounding all Boeing 737 Max aircraft, Reuters reported. The US plane-maker has said it would suspend all 371 of the aircraft, BBC reported.
The Federal Aviation Administration of the US said new evidence has shown similarities between the plane crash of an Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane and the Indonesia plane crash, involving another Max 8 plane, in October 2018. While 157 people were killed in Sunday’s crash near Addis Ababa, 180 people died in the Lion Air jet crash last year.
The agency said findings from the crash site near Addis Ababa and new satellite data warranted “further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents”, AFP reported.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order grounding 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft until further notice. The United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines Co fly versions of the 737 Max, Reuters reported.
FAA acting chief Daniel Elwell said the agency faced delays in finding the cause of the accident because the flight data recorders had been damaged in the crash.
United States’ announcement came hours after Canada also joined the list of countries to ban the aircraft from flying in its airspace.
Trump, however, defended the airplane manufacturer, saying the situation was a “terrible, terrible thing” for Boeing. “Boeing is an incredible company,” he told reporters, according to CNN. “They are working very hard right now.”
He further said: “I didn’t want to take any chances. We didn’t have to make this decision today. We could have delayed it. We maybe didn’t have to make it at all. But I felt it was important both psychologically and in a lot of other ways.”
He said the decision was made partly with regard for the mental well-being of US travellers. “The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern,” he added.
Boeing said it continues to have “full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max”, BBC reported. It said it had, however, decided to ground the flights “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety”. “We are 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,” he added.
On Tuesday, Trump and US authorities had insisted that the aircraft is safe even as other nations grounded Boeing 737 Max. The FAA had earlier said that its review showed “no systemic performance issues” and that there was no basis for grounding the Boeing 737 fleet.