President Donald Trump on Wednesday made the US Federal Aviation Authorities to eat their words over the safety of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX jets as he ordered their grounding, saying the FAA would make a formal announcement.
“We’re going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the 737 MAX 8 and the 737 MAX 9 and planes associated with that line,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
“The FAA is prepared to make an announcement very shortly regarding the new information and physical evidence that we’ve have received from the site, and from other locations and through a couple of other complaints,” he said, referring to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
When the FAA issues the announcement, it will be doing a major somersault, after initially refusing to acknowledge the safety concerns worldwide.
“Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft,” Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Daniel Elwell said in a statement on Tuesday.
Trump’s action followed a boycott of the Boeing model by Canada, Europe and other nations over safety concerns on the tail of Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.
Boeing shares, which were up earlier in the session, fell 2 percent to $367.70. The shares have fallen about 13 percent since the crash, losing more than $25 billion of market value.
Meanwhile, Germany’s federal agency responsible for investigating air accidents will not analyse the black box from the Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed on Sunday, casting uncertainty over the process of finding out what may have caused the disaster.
“This is a new type of aircraft with a new black box, with new software. We can’t do it,” said Germout Freitag, a spokesman for Germany’s Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU).
The move leaves unclear the destination of the black box, which may yield vital details of what caused the Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 to plunge to the ground, killing 157 people.
A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines had said earlier that the black boxes recovered from the crashed plane would be sent to Germany for analysis.
Canada also grounded 737 MAX jets on Wednesday, saying satellite data suggested similarities to a previous crash involving the same plane model.
Countries around the world have grounded the 737 MAX jets or banned them from flying over their airspace since the Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed soon after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday.
The still unexplained crash followed another involving a Boeing 737 MAX in Indonesia five months ago that killed 189 people.
Although there is no proof of any link, the twin disasters have spooked passengers, led to the grounding of most of Boeing’s 737 MAX fleet and hammered shares in the U.S. planemaker, the world’s largest.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau told a news conference that Ottawa would stop 737 MAX 8 and 9 jets from leaving, arriving or flying over Canada.
He said satellite data suggested similarities between the flight profiles of the Ethiopian jet and that of a Lion Air plane of the same type that crashed in Indonesia last year. Both planes crashed shortly after takeoff.
Air Canada and rival WestJet Airlines operate a total of 37 Boeing 737 MAX jets.
Boeing has said it has full confidence in the 737 MAX – a model that has 371 jets in operation around the world.
Ethiopian Airlines spokesman Asrat Begashaw said it was still unclear what happened on Sunday, but its pilot had reported control issues – as opposed to external factors such as birds.
“The pilot reported flight control problems and requested to turn back. In fact he was allowed to turn back,” he said.
A dozen airlines have grounded the plane, while Nigeria, Lebanon, Egypt, Serbia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Hong Kong on Wednesday became the latest countries to ban it from their airspace.
The European Union and major hubs such as the United Arab Emirates and Australia had already done so.
The MAX series, which is Boeing’s fastest-selling model, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers. There are about 350 MAX 8s in service around the world.