Trump: US will ground Boeing 737 Max 8 planes involved in fatal crashes

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump on Wednesday grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.

"Any planes that are currently in the air "will be grounded upon landing at the destination," Trump said.

"Boeing is an incredible company," the president said. "They are working very very hard right now, and hopefully they’ll very quickly come up with the answer, but until they do, the planes are grounded."

Trump’s announcement followed one by Canada’s transportation minister grounding all the jets, saying a review of satellite-tracking data by his country’s experts found similarities between Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet and an October Lion Air crash.

The news had left the United States and its carriers as the last major users of the aircraft.

Trump said he has spoken with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, "and they’ll be available shortly after our conference today. They are all in agreement with the action."

"Any plane currently in the air will go to its destination and thereafter be grounded until further notice. So planes that are in the air will be grounded — if they’re the 737 Max — will be grounded upon landing at the destination," Trump said.

"Pilots have been notified. Airlines have been all notified. Airlines are agreeing with us. The safety of the American people — and all people — is our paramount concern," the president said. "Our hearts go out to all of those who lost loved ones, to their friends, to their families, in both the Ethiopian and Lion Airlines that involved the 737 Max aircraft. It’s a terrible, terrible thing."

Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he issued the "safety notice" after the newly-available data was reviewed Wednesday morning.

"At this point, we feel that that threshold has been crossed and that is why we are taking these measures," Garneau said.

Garneau said the safety notice halts Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from arriving, departing or using Canadian airspace, effective immediately. The notice also cover the Max 9, another model in the Boeing series.

Garneau said the new information reviewed Wednesday is satellite tracking data that is collected when an aircraft takes off. He said the data provides an indication of the plane’s course and its vertical profile.

"My experts have looked at this and compared it to the flight that occurred with Lion Air six months ago in October, and . . . there are similarities that sort of exceed a certain threshold in our minds with respect to the possible cause of what happened in Ethiopia," he said.

The Federal Aviation Administration will to issue a formal notice.

Meanwhile, Ethiopian Airlines said Wednesday that it will send the voice and data recorders from its ill-fated Flight 302 to be analyzed in Europe. A spokesman said the country had yet to be chosen.

Officials around the world have cited the continued absence of clear information from the plane to call for Boeing 737 Max 8 jets to be grounded.

The data from the two flight recorders are eagerly awaited as investigators look for any connection between Sunday’s crash and the October crash of Air Lion flight.

After China grounded the plane on Monday, most countries followed suit, including much of Europe. The latest bans were issued by India, Egypt, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Hong Kong.

Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam told CNN on Tuesday that the pilot reported "flight control problems" and asked to return to the airport.

Tewolde said that the boxes would be sent abroad "because we don’t have the equipment here" to analyze their data.

While Tewolde of Ethiopian Airlines said the cause of the crash was not yet clear, hecast doubt on the airworthiness of the 737 Max.

"Two major fatal accidents on the same airplane model, brand new airplane model, in six months – so there are a lot of questions to be answered on the airplane," he said.

In remarks to local media, Tewolde also revealed that pilots received additional training from Boeing to fly the 737 Max after an Indonesian domestic Lion Air flight crashed into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff last year.

"After the Lion Air crash, questions were raised, so Boeing sent further instructions that it said pilots should know," he said, according to the Associated Press. "Those relate to the specific behavior of this specific type of aircraft. As a result, training was given by Boeing, and our pilots have taken it and put it into our manuals."

The Washington Post

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