Numerous news outlets are reporting that President Trump has issued an executive order grounding all 737 Max aircraft in the United States. The grounding was to go into effect immediately. Planes in the air would be allowed to continue to their destinations. Trump's order reverses the judgment of the FAA to allow the planes to continue to fly in light of what it said was no hard evidence of any problems even after nearly every other country in the world grounded the jet. Canada had been a fellow holdout in allowing the 737 Max to continue to fly, but on Wednesday it followed the lead of most other nations in shutting down the new Boeing jet.
The action to ground the jets is unprecedented in American history, and it remains to be seen how long the grounding will be in effect and how airlines will respond. One European airline has already asked Boeing to reimburse it for the lost revenue from grounding its jets.
US Airline Pilots Lodged Safety Warnings With the FAA
Over the past 24 hours, events have been unfolding rapidly. For background, in the last five months tragedy has twice struck the Boeing 737 Max. In late October of 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta. All 189 people aboard perished. Last week Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was lost in similar circumstances after taking off from Addis Ababa. In that mishap, all 157 aboard died.
Numerous outlets are reporting that the FAA may have had a heads up that safety problems with the jet were very real. The reports claim that as many as a half dozen United States based airline pilots who fly the 737 Max reported urgent safety concerns to the FAA after they experienced uncommanded descents, which is when a dive is initiated not by the pilot but by the autoflight system. This appears to have been the case with both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Air Flights.
Plane & Pilot will continue to update this story as it unfolds.