President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the United States will ground all Boeing 737 Max planes immediately, becoming the last country banning such flights after Sunday’s deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash.
“Pilots have been notified, airlines have been all notified. Airlines are agreeing with this. The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern,” Trump said from the White House.
US carriers including American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines fly Max 8 planes, reports CNN.
Trump said new information about the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 had led his administration to order the immediate grounding of the aircraft.
In a statement, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that its ordering a temporary grounding of Boeing 737 Max aircraft, citing “new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today,” and “refined satellite data.”
Boeing said it supported the FAA and the Trump administration’s decision. The company said it recommended the FAA to temporarily suspend the global operations of all its 371 Max aircrafts.
“We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution. Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes; and it always will be,” said Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg in a statement.
Boeing and the FAA said for several days that they had no plans to ground the aircraft.
The US and Canada had been the only two countries still flying the aircraft on Wednesday. To date, 385 Max aircraft have been delivered, according to Flight Global, of which 344 are the Max 8 variant.
Hours before Trump’s announcement, Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said they will no longer allow the 737 Max 8 or 9 aircraft to take off or land in Canada, nor will they allow aircraft to fly over its airspace.
Egypt, Hong Kong, Lebanon and New Zealand joined dozens of other countries, on Wednesday, banning all Boeing Max aircraft from their airspace as an extra safety precaution.
The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing Max 8 jet plummeted into a field shortly after leaving Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport on Sunday morning, killing 157 people. One of the pilots reported flight control problems and asked to return to the base.
As investigators search for clues into the cause of the disaster, some aviation experts are drawing parallels to the Lion Air Boeing Max 8 plane that went down last October over the Java Sea in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.
Garneau said satellite tracking data that is collected when certain aircraft take off — specifically the vertical profile of the aircraft — was analyzed by officials and was the reason they decided to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 over Canadian airspace.
While not conclusive, Garneau said their were similarities in the new data they analyzed and the doomed Lion Air flight that caused them to feel a threshold had been crossed to halt those flights.
The Max 9 model has never crashed, but it was included in an FAA emergency airworthiness directive following the Lion Air crash last year. A Max 10 model is still in development.
China’s aviation administration was the first to order a suspension on Monday evening, grounding all domestic Boeing 737 Max 8 jets, citing its principle of “zero tolerance for safety hazards.”
China has one of the world’s largest fleets of Boeing 737 Max 8s, operating 97 of the planes, according to Chinese state-run media.