US grounds Boeing 737 Max 8, 9: What that means in Jacksonville

President Donald Trump says US grounding Boeing Max planes after Ethiopia crash

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter, Jim Piggott - Reporter, Zeke Miller, Associated Press

The U.S. is issuing an emergency order Wednesday grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft "effective immediately," in the wake of the crash of an Ethiopian Airliner that killed 157 people, President Donald Trump said.

Lines were growing early Wednesday evening at the Miami International Airport after the grounding, and News4Jax aviation expert Ed Booth weighed in on the impact of the presidential order on the Jacksonville International Airport. 

"I don't think you'll see much of an effect. There were a limited number of these airplanes in service here in the United States. Here in Jacksonville, only Southwest Airline and American Airlines had them. They didn't fly them into Jacksonville," Booth said. "I think it'll be a negligible effect on U.S. air travel." 

Many nations had already barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its airspace, but until Trump's announcement, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had said that it didn't have any data to show the jets are unsafe. Trump cited "new information" that had come to light in the ongoing investigation into the incident. He did not elaborate.

"All of those planes are grounded, effective immediately," Trump said during a scheduled briefing on border security.

Trump said any airplane currently in the air will go to its destination and then be grounded. He added all airlines and affected pilots had been notified.

Trump said the safety of the American people is of "paramount concern," and added that the FAA would soon put out a statement on the action.

Trump said the decision to ground the aircraft "didn't have to be made, but we thought it was the right decision."

The president insisted the announcement was coordinated with aviation officials in Canada, U.S. carriers and aircraft manufacturer Boeing.

"Boeing is an incredible company," Trump said. "They are working very, very hard right now and hopefully they'll quickly come up with an answer."

In a statement, Boeing said it "continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX." The company added that it had decided "out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft's safety -- to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft."

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said the company was "supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution."

The FAA grounded the Max Wednesday, saying "new information" indicated some similarities with a Lion Air crash in the Java Sea that killed 189 people in October. The agency suspended the jets while investigators determine whether there was a shared cause of the two crashes.

"I believe that the similarities are that the airplane took control away from the pilots. The pilots didn't understand what they were doing and were powerless to prevent a crash. There was apparently software installed that they were not told about," said Booth, who has been monitoring the investigations. "I think the dots are being connected, and I think the FAA made the correct decision today."

The FAA would not speculate on how long the grounding would last. 

More than 45 countries and 26 airlines across the globe have grounded the Max jets.
Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

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