US grounds Boeing 737 Max after crash; Israel to ban it from airspace
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US grounds Boeing 737 Max after crash; Israel to ban it from airspace

Trump follows growing world trend to block aircraft after Ethiopian Airlines crash kills 157 from 35 nations

An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 is seen at its gate after arriving at the Miami International Airport from San Jose, Costa Rica on March 13, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 is seen at its gate after arriving at the Miami International Airport from San Jose, Costa Rica on March 13, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

The US is issuing an emergency order Wednesday grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft “effective immediately,” in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people, President Donald Trump said, as Israel signaled it would follow suit.

Many nations had already barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its airspace, but until Trump’s announcement, the 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.

US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on drug trafficking on the Southern Border of the US in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 13, 2019. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

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

The US president insisted the announcement was coordinated with aviation officials in Canada, US 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.”

Shortly after Trump’s announcement, Transportation Minister Israel Katz said he would ban the 737 Max 8 aircraft from entering Israeli airspace.

Israel Katz attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on February 17, 2019. (Sebastian Scheiner/Pool/AFP)

Katz told Channel 13 in an interview that though Israeli airlines do not possess any 737s, he decided to join the “global campaign” as a precautionary measure and will instruct aviation authorities to implement the measure.

The Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 was less than four months old when it went down six minutes into a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi on Sunday, disintegrating on impact. At least 35 nationalities were among the dead.

It was the second deadly crash involving the plane type in less than six months, prompting governments worldwide to ban Boeing’s best-selling jet from their airspace.

Experts have pointed out similarities with a crash in October when an Indonesian Lion Air jet went down, killing 189 passengers and crew.

Family members mourn the victims at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines operated Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the village in the Oromia region, on March 13, 2019. (TONY KARUMBA / AFP)

Though aviation experts warned against drawing conclusions until more information emerges from the investigation, more than 40 countries — including the entire European Union — have suspended flights by the Max 8 or barred it from their airspace.

After the crash, China swiftly ordered its airlines to ground the planes — they had 96 Max 8 jets in service, more than one-fourth of the approximately 370 Max jets in circulation.

On Wednesday, Lebanon, Egypt, Serbia, Vietnam, and New Zealand became the latest countries, as well as Hong Kong, to ban the Boeing aircraft from their fleets.

Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle has said it will demand financial compensation from Boeing as the implications of the mass grounding for the airline industry remained unclear.

Boeing chief Dennis Muilenburg said he supported the US decision “out of an abundance of caution,” but continues to have “full confidence” in the safety of the plane.

The company continues its efforts “to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again,” Muilenburg said in a statement.

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