The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 Max operated by US airlines or in US territory – meaning all 371 Max aircraft in operation globally are now grounded.
Southwest Airlines has immediately grounded the 34 Boeing 737 Max 8 in service while American Airlines has grounded the 24 Max 8 aircraft in its fleet. United Airlines has stopped using its 14 737 Max 9s.
The FAA said it made this decision as a “result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analysed today. This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision”.
“The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders.
“An FAA team is in Ethiopia assisting the NTSB as parties to the investigation of the Flight 302 accident. The agency will continue to investigate,” the FAA added.
Aviation regulators around the world have been suspending use of the 737 Max after the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday in Ethiopia, in which 157 people were killed. There are concerns there are similarities with the Lion Air 737 Max 8 crash on 29 October last year when 187 people were killed.
Boeing has also released a statement and said it “continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max”.
The manufacturer added: “However, after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and its customers around the world, 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.
“On behalf of the entire Boeing team, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in these two tragic accidents,” said The Boeing Company chairman, president and chief executive officer, Dennis Muilenburg.
“We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution. Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be.
“There is no greater priority for our company and our industry. 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.”
Boeing said it makes this recommendation and supports the decision by the FAA.