FAA grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets, citing ‘new evidence’ from Ethiopia crash site

Alan Boyle GeekWire

The Federal Aviation Administration today ordered the temporary grounding of Boeing’s next-generation 737 MAX jets, due to “new evidence” collected at the site of Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash as well as data transmitted via satellite.

In its emergency order, the FAA said the evidence pointed to what appeared to be some similarities between the circumstances of the 737 MAX 8 crash in Ethiopiaand the loss of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia last October. Sunday’s crash killed all 157 people aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, while the October crash killed all 189 people aboard Lion Air Flight 610.

The similarities “warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents that needs to be better understood and addressed,” the FAA said.

Airlines that fly 737 MAX jets in defiance of the order could have their certificates revoked, the FAA said.

in an earlier statement, the FAA said the grounding would remain in effect pending further investigation, “including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorder.”

#FAA statement on the temporary grounding of @Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in a U.S. territory. pic.twitter.com/tCxSakbnbH

— The FAA (@FAANews) March 13, 2019

Southwest Airlines operates 34 737 MAX 8 planes, American Airlines has 24 MAX 8’s and United Airlines has 14 MAX 9’s, accounting for nearly 300 daily flights in all. All three airlines offered to rebook passengers whose flights were canceled. (Get the details for Southwest, American and United.)

Today’s announcement, which affects all 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S territory, came after scores of other nations took similar measures.

The move was signaled in advance by President Donald Trump, and came just hours after Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said 737 MAX planes would be barred from arrivals, departures and overflights in Canada.

Like the FAA, Garneau said satellite data suggested there were similarities between the crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. In both cases, the pilots reported control difficulties just after takeoff, and the planes nose-dived shortly afterward.

Garneau said the readings transmitted via satellite were not conclusive, and he shied away from saying definitively that the crashes were related. “But it is something that points possibly in that direction, and at this point we feel that that threshold has been crossed and that is why we are taking these measures,” he said. Read more...

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