President Trump announced on Wednesday that the US would temporarily ban all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 jets from flying, following nearly every country in the world that has ordered that the airplane be grounded since the deadly crash in Ethiopia on Sunday.
More than 40 countries have grounded the 737 Max 8 after it was involved in two deadly crashes, one in Indonesia last October and the more recent one in Ethiopia. But until now, the US Federal Aviation Administration allowed the plane to fly, and the Trump administration was criticized for putting Boeing’s well-being over the safety of American passengers.
“Boeing is an incredible company.”
On Wednesday, Trump finally bowed to pressure from the international community and US lawmakers from both parties by announcing the temporary ban.
“Boeing is an incredible company,” Trump said in a briefing to reporters. “They are working very, very hard right now, and hopefully they’ll quickly come up with the answer. But until they do, the planes are grounded.”
Last October, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed off the coast of Indonesia, and all 189 passengers on board were killed. That investigation is ongoing, but it has focused on the Max 8’s stall-prevention system, apparent maintenance lapses, and potential pilot error. The cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash last Sunday is unknown, but investigators have recovered the flight and data recorders. The Ethiopian Airlines crash killed 157 people.
In incident reports that surfaced this week, pilots had reported that the Max 8 jetliner would tilt suddenly after takeoff, among other concerns. But Boeing has said it still has confidence in the 737 Max 8.
In a new statement on Wednesday, Boeing reiterated that point, while also saying it supports the decision to ground its planes. The company’s statement appears to frame it as an internal decision made in collaboration with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board, even though Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has reportedly lobbied Trump personally to allow the Max 8 jets to continue to fly.