The United States on Wednesday joined the majority of the world in grounding its Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes after the jets were involved in two separate crashes in the span of less than six months.
President Trump announced the emergency action ahead of a briefing on border drug trafficking at the White House just hours after Canada revealed it would ban the planes from its airspace.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau issued the “safety notice” following a review of new satellite tracking data “suggesting a possible although unproven similarity” in the Ethiopian and Indonesia crashes involving the Boeing planes.
The UK, Germany and Ireland on Tuesday also joined Asian and Middle Eastern governments in grounding and banning the MAX 8 jets from flying overhead. But U.S.-based Boeing said earlier this week it saw no reason to pull its popular aircraft despite growing backlash and criticism regarding the MAX 8’s safety.
The Federal Aviation Administration also expressed support for the Boeing model alongside several U.S. airlines, including Southwest and American Airlines, which is the largest airline in the world.
“Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft,” acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell said in a statement. “Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.”
A vice president for American — which boasts 24 MAX 8s — said they have “full confidence in the aircraft” just days after an Ethiopia Airlines jet traveling to Nairobi crashed six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa.
The Max 8 aircraft had only been in use for four months when it nosedived into a field amid clear weather Sunday morning.
Ethiopian Airlines, widely seen as Africa’s best-managed airline, indefinitely grounded its other four 737 Max 8s as “an extra safety precaution.” The carrier had been using five of the planes and was awaiting delivery of 25 more.
It’s the second time in five months that one of the planes crashed immediately after taking flight. A new Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 in October went down just 12 minutes after departing an airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. None of the 189 people aboard survived the crash.
Both incidents, which have not been linked, are under investigation.
A team of U.S. aviation experts on Tuesday touched down in Ethiopia, where they are searching for answers in the sudden crash. The Federal Aviation Administration said it would also provide assistance to the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau’s probe into the deadly incident.
Ethiopian officials have said the country does not have the technology required to analyze the crashed planes “black boxes” and announced Wednesday they would be transported to another in country in Europe for examination.
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