US Grounds Boeing 737 Max Aircraft In Wake Of Deadly Crashes
President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday the United States is grounding the Boeing 737 Max aircraft after days of critics saying the administration failed to swiftly protect the flying public after two of the planes were involved in deadly crashes overseas.
“All of those planes are grounded, effective immediately,” the president said.
The decision came two days after the Federal Aviation Administration said it had found no evidence to support grounding the planes in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash over the weekend.
That stance prompted criticism from lawmakers and a former transportation secretary as the United States appeared to be adopting a wait-and-see position as aviation safety regulators around the world, including Canada, China, Australia, the European Union and the United Kingdom, all moved to ground the passenger jet in their jurisdictions.
The same model plane crashed into the Java Sea in October, killing all onboard.
Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said in a statement Tuesday that he was concerned that international aviation regulators are providing more certainty to the flying public than the FAA.
“In the coming days, it is absolutely critical that we get answers as to what caused the devastating crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 and whether there is any connection to what caused the Lion Air accident just five months ago,” DeFazio said.
The same day former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called for the administration to act.
“These planes need to be inspected before people get on them,” LaHood said. “The flying public expects somebody in the government to look after safety, and that’s DOT’s responsibility.”
As transportation secretary in 2013, LaHood grounded the Boeing 787 Dreamliner because of overheating lithium-ion battery packs. The planes went back into service less than a month later, after Boeing engineered new fire-resistant compartments around the batteries.
LaHood said current Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao should do the same thing with the 737, even if it meant overruling the FAA.
“The secretary has the authority to suspend these planes” he said. “She has the authority to do it no matter what the FAA thinks.”
In announcing the decision to ground the planes on Wednesday, Trump called Boeing “an incredible company” and said it is working “very hard” to identify and address issues with the aircraft.
The president said all 737 Max aircraft in air as he spoke would proceed to their destinations and be grounded upon landing.
In a statement issued after the president spoke, the FAA said it was ordering the temporary grounding of the Boeing 737 aircraft “as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today.”
“This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision,” the statement said.
The grounding is to remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data and cockpit voice records, the agency said.
But such assurances aren’t mollifying lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has already said it will hold a hearing in coming days on air safety.
“It is important to allow the FAA, NTSB and other agencies to conduct thorough investigations to ensure they have as much information as possible to make informed decisions,” said committee chairman Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., in a written statement.
“Thousands of passengers every day depend on the aviation system to get them safely to their destinations, and we must never become complacent with the level of safety in our system. Therefore, the committee plans to hold a hearing reviewing the state of aviation safety to ensure that safety is maintained for all travelers,” he said.
Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who sits on the committee, told CNN he’s told his family and others to switch planes rather than fly on the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
“There should be a full investigation but in the meantime, better safe than sorry,” Blumenthal, said. He added the planes are “unsafe at any speed right now.”
In The News
WASHINGTON — President Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to investigate if oil companies are illegally driving up... Read More
WASHINGTON — President Biden asked the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to investigate if oil companies are illegally driving up gas prices. In a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, the president says there is “mounting evidence of anti-consumer behavior by oil and gas companies” noting... Read More
WASHINGTON — The White House outlined an ambitious multibillion dollar plan on Tuesday to dramatically upgrade the nation’s aging ports... Read More
WASHINGTON — The White House outlined an ambitious multibillion dollar plan on Tuesday to dramatically upgrade the nation’s aging ports and relieve the bottlenecks that have plagued the nation’s critical supply chains since early summer. The actions announced during a morning telephone call with reporters and... Read More
WASHINGTON -- More than 150 aviation manufacturing businesses will soon be receiving a portion of an additional $184 million in... Read More
WASHINGTON -- More than 150 aviation manufacturing businesses will soon be receiving a portion of an additional $184 million in COVID-19 relief, the Transportation Department announced Monday. The funding is being provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by... Read More
WASHINGTON – The number of airline flights in the U.S were up 50.4% in August compared to a year earlier,... Read More
WASHINGTON – The number of airline flights in the U.S were up 50.4% in August compared to a year earlier, but the pace of recovery of the industry continued to be impacted by the drag on travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Transportation Department said... Read More
WASHINGTON — The American Maritime Partnership publicly released a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg underscoring the... Read More
WASHINGTON — The American Maritime Partnership publicly released a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg underscoring the continued reliability of America’s domestic maritime services despite the current supply chain crisis. In a press release AMP stated, American maritime is providing certainty to American... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington's regional Metro system abruptly pulled more than half its fleet of trains from service early Monday... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington's regional Metro system abruptly pulled more than half its fleet of trains from service early Monday morning over a lingering problem with the wheels and axles that caused a dramatic derailing last week. The ruling promises to complicate daily travel and commutes... Read More