Trump orders the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max aircrafts in the US
Mr Trump’s decision follows the move from other jurisdictions such as Europe, China, and Singapore to ground the 737 plane variant following the deadly crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 which killed 157 people.
United States (US) president Donald Trump on Wednesday announced the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max jetliner after days of mounting pressure, a move which reverses from an earlier decision from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to keep the planes flying in the air.
Mr Trump’s decision follows the move from other jurisdictions such as Europe, China, and Singapore to ground the 737 plane variant following the deadly crash of the same model of aircraft flown by Ethiopian Airlines which killed 157 people on Sunday.
This is the second same plane model from Boeing that has crashed in less than five months, raising questions on the safety of the airline company’s bestselling 737s. The first Boeing 737 Max flown by Lion Air had plunged into the Java sea just minutes after take-off and caused the deaths of 189 people.
Mr Trump who announced the ban on television, said the decision to ground the Max 8 and Max 9 was made in light of new information about Sunday's crash.
The FAA said new evidence had been collected at the site of the crash on Wednesday, and additional information from new satellite data led to the grounding decision.
Consumers and airline unions voice their concerns, FAA under scrutiny
The US aviation agency has been receiving heat from US lawmakers and experts on why they waited so long to take the decisive ban.
Several consumers who are flying on Max 8 with various airlines have taken to social media to voice their concerns and worries.
A Twitter user Jeremy Wilbur posted on his tweet that he had booked for a flight from Sydney, Australia to Nadi, Republic of Fiji with Fiji Airways this Saturday and was concerned as the Max 8 was the scheduled plane for the flight. ‘When will you announce the new aircraft for this flight?’ queried Mr Wilbur.
Airline unions were also concerned on letting airline crew fly on Boeing’s 737 Max planes. The largest union for flight attendants in the US, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) called on US regulators on Wednesday to ground the aircraft until more information is made known.
‘This is about public confidence in the safety of air travel,’ said Sara Nelson, president of the AFA, which represents about 50,000 flight attendants at multiple airlines, including United Airlines.
‘The US has the safest aviation system in the world, but Americans are looking for leadership in this time of uncertainty. The FAA must act decisively to restore the public faith in the system,’ Ms Nelson said.
Speaking to reporters in a conference call, acting FAA administrator Dan Elwell said: ‘We were resolute in our position that we would not take action until we had data to support taking action...That data coalesced today and we made the call.’
Mr Elwell declined to guess how long the grounding would last but he said he hoped to keep it ‘as short as possible’.
Boeing’s share price closed Wednesday’s session flat, up 0.46% or US$1.73, at US$377.14.
The muted activity was in contrast with the heavy losses the stock had suffered on Tuesday and Monday, as it plunged 6.15% and 5.33%, respectively. The stock has fallen by 10.7% since the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy on Sunday.
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