Photo by Angel DiBilio / Shutterstock.com
One of Southwest’s Boeing 737 Max 8 planes
Flights on Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines are all affected.
The United States has finally joined the growing list of countries, including the entire European Union, in banning Boeing 737 Max planes from its airspace on Wednesday. The safety of the aircraft was called into question after two of the planes crashed in the past five months.
The 737 Max 8 is one of the current models of Boeing’s popular single-aisle 737 Max fleet, which makes up most of Boeing’s orders. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board on Sunday. However, many airlines and aviation authorities are cautious to allow the planes to fly because the Boeing 737 Max 8 was also involved in a Lion Air crash in Indonesia last October that killed 189 people.
After issuing a statement saying it was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew” in Ethiopia, Boeing sent a technical team to the crash site to aid investigators into the cause of the disaster.
“Safety is Boeing’s number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max,” Boeing said in another statement on Tuesday. “We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets.”
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The U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) initially stood in solidarity with Boeing, issuing a continued airworthiness notification on Monday regarding the entire Boeing 737 Max fleet, which includes the 737 Max 8 model and the newer 737 Max 9 aircraft.
But by Tuesday, dozens of airlines and countries grounded about two-thirds of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft worldwide. Between that and growing pressure from the general public, flight attendants, and politicians including U.S. senator Diane Feinstein, President Trump announced Wednesday afternoon that the jets would be temporarily grounded within the United States.
The ban affects the 737 Max 8 planes that both Southwest Airlines and American Airlines operate. Southwest currently has 34 and American Airlines has 24 of the aircraft, and they’ll have to find other planes within their fleets to cover the affected routes.
The ban also affects the Boeing 737 Max 9s that United Airlines operates currently.
All three airlines previously issued statements regarding their confidence in the aircraft’s safety, citing data from thousands of flights that operated with no issues.
Norwegian Airlines had already grounded its 18 737 Max 8 aircraft after the EU ban, affecting flights in and out of New York’s Stewart International Airport and Providence’s T.F. Green International Airport.
To find out if your upcoming travels are affected by the 737 Max ban in the United States, contact your airline's customer service.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.
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