The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order Wednesday keeping all Boeing 737 Max 8s from flying in the USA
Boeing’s newest version of its best-selling airliner ever was supposed to boost its fortunes for years to come.
Instead it has turned into the company’s biggest headache, with more than 40 countries — including the U.S., which had been one of the last holdouts — grounding the 737 Max 8 after a second fatal crash proved one too many.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order keeping the planes on the tarmac after refusing to do so in the days immediately following the crash of a Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines that left 157 people dead.
The agency said what made the difference was new, enhanced satellite tracking data and physical evidence on the ground that linked the Ethiopian jet’s movements to those of an Indonesian Lion Air flight that plunged into the Java Sea in October and killed 189 people.
Grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 passenger planes sit on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
A Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft is in hangar before the inspection at Garuda Maintenance Facility at Soekarno Hatta airport, Jakarta, Indonesia on March 12, 2019
Lion Air officials have said sensors on their plane produced erroneous information on its last four flights, triggering an automatic nose-down command that the pilots were unable to overcome on its final voyage
‘That evidence aligns the Ethiopian flight closer to Lion Air, what we know happened to Lion Air,’ said Daniel Elwell, acting FAA administrator.
Officials at Lion Air have said sensors on their plane produced erroneous information on its last four flights, triggering an automatic nose-down command that the pilots were unable to overcome on its final voyage.
Since debuting in 2017, Boeing has delivered more than 350 of the Max in several versions that vary by size. Dozens of airlines around the world have embraced the plane for its fuel efficiency and utility for short and medium-haul flights.
The groundings will have a far-reaching financial impact on Boeing, at least in the short term, said John Cox, a veteran pilot and CEO of Safety Operating Systems.
An Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing jetliner crashed on Sunday leaving 157 people dead
A family member reacts at the scene where the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 plane crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday killing all 157 on board, near Bishoftu, south of Addis Ababa
More than 40 nations have grounded the jetliner after the second fatal crash in less than five months
In addition to the planes that have been grounded, there are more than 4,600 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes on backlog that are not yet delivered to airlines.
‘There are delivery dates that aren’t being met, there’s usage of the aircraft that’s not being met, and all the supply chain things that Boeing so carefully crafted,’ Cox said.
‘If they can’t deliver the airplanes, where do they put the extra engines and the extra fuselage and the extra electrical components?’
A grounded American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 is towed to another location at Miami International Airport
The FAA used new, enhanced satellite tracking data and physical evidence on the ground to link the Ethiopian jet’s movements to those of the Indonesian Lion Air flight that plunged into the Java Sea in October and killed 189 people
Impacted airlines also may come knocking on Boeing’s door claiming damages.
Norwegian Airlines said it would pursue reimbursement from Boeing for lost business and if other carriers follow suit, that could be costly.
Whether airlines would be successful with such claims depends on the details of the contracts those carriers have with Boeing, said Dan Rose, partner at Kreindler & Kreindler, an aviation law firm.