Washington, Mar 14 : The United States has grounded all Boeing 737 Max planes following a review of new data from the weekend crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet that killed all 157 people aboard, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement on Wednesday.
The decision, announced by President Donald Trump, followed determinations by safety regulators in some 42 countries to ban flights by the jets, which are now grounded worldwide. Pilots, flight attendants, consumers and politicians from both major parties had been agitating for the planes to be grounded in the United States. Despite the clamor, the Federal Aviation Administration had been resolute, saying on Tuesday that it had seen “no systemic performance issues” that would prompt it to halt flights of the jet.
That changed Wednesday when, in relatively quick succession, Canadian and American aviation authorities said they were grounding the planes after newly available satellite-tracking data suggested similarities between Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia and one involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 in Indonesia in October.
"The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern," Trump said, New York Times reported. The crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 took place just minutes after takeoff and killed all 157 people on board the jetliner, a 737 Max 8. The circumstances echoed an October accident in which a 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air, an Indonesian carrier, crashed and killed 189 people.
Marc Garneau, Canada’s transport minister, said that data on the vertical path of the Ethiopian jet at takeoff and comparable data from the Lion Air crash showed similar “vertical fluctuations” and “oscillations.”
Hours later, the FAA's acting administrator, Daniel K Elwell also said "On March 13, 2019, the investigation of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 crash developed new information from the wreckage concerning the aircraft's configuration just after takeoff, that together with newly refined data from satellite-based tracking of the aircraft's flight path, indicates some similarities between ET302 and Lion Air Flight 610 accidents that warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause."
The accidents have put Boeing on the defensive. The low-cost airline Norwegian Air, which has one of the largest Max 8 fleets outside the United States, said it would seek compensation from the company because of the groundings.
"Boeing has determined - out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety - to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft," Boeing’s chief executive, Dennis A Muilenburg, said after the grounding was announced.
The 737 Max is Boeing’s best-selling jet ever and is expected to be a major driver of profit, with more than 4,500 of the planes on order. The company’s shares have fallen about 11 per cent this week.UNI