Trump: All Boeing 737 Max planes grounded ‘immediately’

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Boeing 737 Max 8 plane (Photo: Boeing)

(CBS News) — President Trump announced Wednesday that the FAA is grounding all Boeing 737 Max planes “effective immediately,” following the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people, including eight Americans.

All planes in the air at the time of the agency’s order were allowed to reach their destinations but prohibited from taking off again, the FAA said in a statement.

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The cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash has not yet been determined, but the incident marked the second time in five months a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed within minutes of takeoff. A Max 8 jet operated by Lion Airlines crashed in Indonesia in October 2018, killing 189 people.

The FAA said the order grounding the plane “will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders.” The order also prohibits all Max planes from entering U.S. airspace.

“The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today,” the agency said. “This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.”



Mr. Trump explained the decision was reached after new information came to light, and federal aviation officials and Boeing leadership agreed with the move. The U.S. decision to ground the planes comes as other nations have already grounded the fleet, and as the U.S. was under mounting pressure to follow suit. Canada banned Max aircraft from its airspace Wednesday.

The president said the U.S. didn’t have to ground the planes, but it was important to do so for “psychological” reasons, among other reasons. “It’s a terrible, terrible thing,” the president said of the recent crash. “Boeing is an incredible company 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.”

CBS News’ chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports the president and the White House began Wednesday comfortable with the aircraft line. But according to officials directly involved in the process, FAA investigators developed new information from the crash site and other sources that revealed potential similarities between Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash and the October Lion Air crash.

When Mr. Trump spoke with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Tuesday, the executive assured the president he believes the planes are safe, CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave reported Tuesday. Boeing reiterated that belief in a statement Wednesday following the president’s announcement.

“Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX,” Boeing said. “However, after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, 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.”

Now, airlines — and passengers — are dealing with the fallout of the decision.

American Airlines issued a statement immediately after the president’s announcement confirming the Boeing 737 Max fleet will be grounded, and all flights will be rebooked as soon as possible. The airline has 24 aircraft affected by the decision, and expects about 85 canceled flights a day due to the grounding.

Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who had called for the grounding of the planes, said in a statement he looks forward to holding a congressional hearing to further address concerns about these crashes.