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March 15, 2019

US, Canada ground Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9

National

March 15, 2019

WASHINGTON/TORONTO: After days of mounting pressure, the United States grounded Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft on Wednesday, reversing an earlier decision in which American regulators said the planes could keep flying after a deadly crash in Ethiopia.

The decision, announced by President Trump, followed determinations by safety regulators in some 42 countries to ban flights by the jets, which are now grounded worldwide. Pilots, flight attendants, consumers and politicians from both major parties had been agitating for the planes to be grounded in the United States, reports The New York Times.

Despite the clamor, the Federal Aviation Administration had been resolute, saying on Tuesday that it had seen “no systemic performance issues” that would prompt it to halt flights of the jet.

That changed Wednesday when, in relatively quick succession, Canadian and American aviation authorities said they were grounding the planes after newly available satellite-tracking data suggested similarities between Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia and one involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 in Indonesia in October.

“The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the White House in making the announcement.

Marc Garneau, Canada’s transport minister, said data on the vertical path of the Ethiopian jet at takeoff and comparable data from the Lion Air crash showed similar “vertical fluctuations” and “oscillations.”

Hours later, the F.A.A. also said its decision came after the investigation “developed new information from the wreckage concerning the aircraft’s configuration just after takeoff.” “Taken together with newly refined data from satellite-based tracking of the aircraft’s flight path,” the F.A.A. said, the information indicated similarities between the Ethiopian and Indonesian crashes “that warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents that needs to be better understood and addressed.”

“Since this accident occurred, we were resolute in our position that we would not take action until we had data to support taking action,” said Daniel K. Elwell, the F.A.A.’s acting administrator. “That data coalesced today, and we made the call.”

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