FAA reverses course, grounds Boeing 737 model Max 8s
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will ground the type of aircraft involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday and a Lion Air accident in October, according to an announcement made today by President Donald Trump.
The Ethiopian incident claimed the lives of 189 people while the Lion Air crash killed 346.
In announcing the emergency order, Trump said that Boeing 737 Max jets currently in the air would be grounded upon landing at their destinations. The move is expected to result in the cancellation or delay of a number of flights.
Pilots had complained
All European Union countries, Canada, China and a number of other nations had already grounded the Max jets. The FAA was facing mounting pressure to do the same, especially as news of multiple pilot complaints about the aircraft came to light in news stories.
The Dallas Morning News reported that at least five pilots complained about the Max 8 in October and November of 2018, and most mentioned problems with the aircraft model's autopilot and the plane going nose down shortly after takeoff.
The Ethiopian flight crashed shortly after takeoff.
The FAA on Monday issued a Continued Airworthiness Notification (PDF) to the International Community (CANIC) related to the Boeing 737-8 and Boeing 737-9 (737 MAX) fleet.
U.S. carriers American, Southwest, United are among those who have Max 8s or 9s in their fleets. Southwest said in a statement that it remained confident "in the safety and airworthiness of the MAX 8" and had no changes planned in its use of the aircraft.
An FAA team assisted the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its investigation of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, collecting data as well as information from international civil aviation authorities.
Data showed no "performance issues"
According to a statement released previously by the FAA, a review of the data showed “no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding” the Boeing 737 MAX.