Well, that was fast. Minutes after I posted speculation about why the US was still operating its Boeing 737 MAXs, the announcement came from President Donald Trump that there would be a ban on the aircraft.
Yes, the announcement came from the President — not from aviation experts at the FAA or Boeing.
President Trump has stated all US #737MAX will be grounded. The FAA has informed airlines. Awaiting official statement and/or Airworthiness Directive from @FAANews. Currently active MAX flights shown below. pic.twitter.com/xk4XEdl1wa
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 13, 2019
Boeing and the FAA released a statement shortly thereafter. They likely had to scramble to create these responses, and I find Boeing’s particularly interesting in how reluctant it sounds.
It sure doesn’t sound like they wanted to ground the MAX, but their hands were forced “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety.”
— Boeing Airplanes (@BoeingAirplanes) March 13, 2019
The FAA also had a response saying there was “newly refined satellite data” to make the decision to ground the MAXs.
— The FAA (@FAANews) March 13, 2019
Airlines like Southwest seem to be a bit caught off guard by this decision too, relying on the media to abort its MAXs.
I can only wonder if President Trump partially made this decision himself before fully consulting with aviation officials. Either way, this will be an operational nightmare for the US airlines, especially American and Southwest who each operate dozens of the 737 MAX.