WASHINGTON — The U.S. is issuing an emergency order Wednesday grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft “effective immediately,” in the wake of the crash of an Ethiopian Airliner that killed 157 people, President Donald Trump said.
Many nations had already barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its airspace, but until Trump’s announcement, the Federal Aviation Administration had said that it didn’t have any data to show the jets are unsafe. Trump cited “new information” that had come to light in the ongoing investigation into incident. He did not elaborate.
“All of those planes are grounded, effective immediately,” Trump said during a scheduled briefing on border security.
Trump said any airplane currently in the air will go to its destination and then be grounded. He added all airlines and affected pilots had been notified.
Trump said the safety of the American people is of “paramount concern.”
The Ethiopian Airlines disaster was the second one involving a Boeing MAX 8 jetliner. Lion Air Flight 610 plunged into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct. 29, 2018, killing all 189 people aboard the aircraft.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said new satellite data received Wednesday morning about the Ethiopian crash shows a possible but unproven similarity to the Indonesia Max 8 crash.
The FAA released a statement saying they made the decision “as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today.”
The agency went on to say that the grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation.
Trump said the decision to ground the aircraft “didn’t have to be made, but we thought it was the right decision.”
The president insisted the announcement was coordinated with aviation officials in Canada, U.S. carriers and aircraft manufacturer Boeing.
“Boeing is an incredible company,” Trump said. “They are working very, very hard right now and hopefully they’ll quickly come up with an answer.”
In a statement, Boeing said it “continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX.” The company added that it had decided “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 CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the company was “supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution.”
Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.