Boeing struggles to contain 737 MAX fallout as more countries suspend service
Countries and airlines are suspending use of Boeing Co.'s 737 MAX jets in droves as the Chicago-based manufacturer struggles to contain the fallout from two fatal crashes involving the recent update to its most popular jetliner.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday said it had no immediate plans to ground the aircraft and several U.S. airlines still operate the jet.
Still, China, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, Ethiopia, Malaysia, Oman, Singapore and Indonesia have either suspended operations of the MAX 8 planes or banned the jets from their airspace. Carriers including Turkish Airlines, Norwegian Air, Aeromexico and Aerolineas Argentinas have also temporarily stopped using the planes.
"As we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder we have, as a precautionary measure, issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace," Britain's Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.
The FAA, however, is facing pressure from some elected officials to take a similar approach to other countries and halt use of the jets.
"Out of an abundance of caution for the flying public, the @FAANews should ground the 737 MAX 8 until we investigate the causes of recent crashes and ensure the plane’s airworthiness," Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, tweeted on Tuesday.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who is running for the party's nomination to challenge Trump for the White House in 2020, also called on the agency to act.
"While we do not know the causes of these crashes, serious questions have been raised about whether these planes were pressed into service without additional pilot training in order to save money," she said in a statement. "Today, immediately, the FAA needs to get these planes out of the sky."
Amid increasing pressure from lawmakers, Boeing executives could soon find themselves testifying in front of Congress. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who heads the chamber's aviation and space panel, said in a statement he would soon hold a hearing on the incident.
Ethiopian regulators are currently investigating the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that occured shortly after takeoff on Sunday and left all 157 people on board dead. The fatal incident comes just months after a 737 MAX 8 operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air also crashed during the initial lift.
While similar, investigators have not yet tied a direct link between the two events.
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Boeing on Monday said it was continuing to work on updating the control software on the jets, including addressing the so-called “angle of attack” inputs – or the device that tracks lift to avoid stalling during takeoff – that is thought to have led to the Lion Air crash. It is expected to be deployed “in the coming weeks.”
“It is still early in the investigation, as we seek to understand the cause of the accident,” the manufacturer said of the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
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Boeing delivered 350 of its 737 MAX jets through January 2019, with over 4,600 orders still unfilled.
The company’s stock sank 5.33 percent in Wall Street trading on Monday to $400.01, a decline that also took 152.77 points from the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average.