Boeing, FAA Agree to Ground 737 MAX Fleet (Finally)

March 13, 2019 by Paul Ausick

In a terse statement issued Wednesday afternoon, The Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) recommended that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) temporarily suspend operations of the entire global fleet of 371 customer-operated 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 aircraft. The recommendation comes three days after a 737 MAX 8 crashed Sunday just a few minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board.

Flight operations of the 737 MAX jets had already been restricted in many other jurisdictions, including the European Union, China, Australia, and Canada. Canadian and British authorities went so far as to ban the planes from their countries’ air space.

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said:

On behalf of the entire Boeing team, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in these two tragic accidents. 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. There is no greater priority for our company and our industry. We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again.

Just last night the FAA rejected calls to ground the planes in the United States, saying that the agency had uncovered “no systemic performance issues” and that there was “no basis to order grounding the aircraft.”

President Trump announced the grounding to reporters at the White House during the noon hour Wednesday. According to a report in The New York Times, Trump said: “We’re going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition regarding all flights of the 737 MAX 8 and 737 MAX 9.”

The FAA issued its order to ground the planes at 3:00 p.m. ET Wednesday, attributing the decision to “new evidence collected at the [Ethiopian] site and analyzed today. Combined with “newly refined satellite data available to the FAA this morning,” the agency decided to ground the planes.

Earlier Wednesday Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau grounded the planes citing the new satellite data and said the new data suggests “a possible, although unproven, similarity of the Lion Air aircraft,” referring to a 737 MAX 8 that crashed in Indonesia last October killing 189 people.