Trump Grounds All U.S. Boeing 737 Max Planes

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The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order Wednesday grounding all Boeing 737 Max aircraft in the wake of a crash of an Ethiopian airliner that killed 157 people, a reversal for the USA after federal aviation regulators had maintained it had no data to show the jets are unsafe.

Resisting pressure, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) acting administrator Dan Elwel said its review had shown "no systemic performance issues". It was the second fatal accident involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in five months.

In a statement, Acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell said the planes will remain in service in the US because the agency's own reviews of the aircraft show no "systematic performance issues". As the European Union imposed its grounding, a number of 737 MAX aircraft were forced to turn around in flight because they were no longer considered airworthy at their destinations. Southwest Airlines Co. and United Continental Holdings Inc.

In 2013, the company's 787 Dreamliner fleet was grounded for over three months after a lithium-ion battery caught fire aboard a parked 787 in Boston.

"Boeing is an incredible company", Trump said.

The regulators' decision has been prompted in part by an eerie similarity between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and last October's Lion Air disaster in the Java Sea, which killed 189 people. Passengers have been spooked by the two disasters.

"(If) any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action".

Boeing's share price has dropped more than 11 per cent - a loss of more than US$26.6 billion - since the plane maker's 737 Max 8 fatally crashed Sunday, but Canada's two largest airlines have emerged almost unscathed. Southwest had 5 MAX-related cancellations on Wednesday and American almost 40. It now has 10 Max 8 planes in its fleet. The U.S. FAA said the black boxes were headed to France later on Wednesday.

They fell by 4.8 percent in early trade on Wednesday but later recovered to trade up 2.7 percent by 1246 GMT.

Boeing 737 MAX 8 graphic
Boeing 737 Max 8 crash in Ethopia: Norwegian airline to seek compensation from plane maker

Hong Kong will ban the operation of all Boeing 737 Max aircraft "into, out of and over" the key Asian aviation hub beginning at 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) Wednesday.

Airlines calculate ASMs by multiplying the number of seats on the plane by the length of a flight, in miles. And speaking to the airlines, I think that we all agree that this was right decision to make.

"We know what happened with the Lion Air flight, we wanted to see whether the Ethiopian flight resembled it", he said.

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines both operate fleets of the affected planes, some of which fly in and out of Tampa International.

"Following advice from Transport Canada Civil Aviation experts, as a precautionary measure, I am issuing a safety notice to address this issue", Canada's Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said.

Trump says pilots and airlines have been notified.

Documents reveal that pilots flying last November reported engaging autopilot only for the aircraft's nose to pitch lower, prompting the warning system to exclaim: "Don't sink!" Senator Ted Cruz said he plans "to investigate these crashes, determine their contributing factors, and ensure that the United States aviation industry remains the safest in the world".

The largest operator of 737 Max 8s in the US, Southwest Airlines, is offering passengers scheduled to fly on one of the Boeing planes the chance to change their bookings.

The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Democrat Peter DeFazio, called for a probe into why the 737 MAX received certification to fly.

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