Archived photo/courtesy of Boeing

Archived photo/courtesy of Boeing

U.S. is now grounding Renton-made 737 MAX 8 and 9; Boeing supports decision

Update: The decision does not affect Renton production lines.

Update: FAA has published their emergency order, effective immediately, to ground the models. It’s available here.

President Donald Trump has issued grounding of 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircrafts, following a deadly crash in Ethiopia on March 9 that killed all 157 people on board. The FAA and Boeing have now both released statements in support of the decision, pending further investigation.

The 737 MAX 8 is assembled in Renton, as well as a quarter of the world’s fleet of commercial jets. This year, Boeing was set to produce 57 planes a month from Renton.

The temporary grounding will not have any change in 737 MAX production in Renton, according to a spokesperson at Boeing. Manufacturing is the largest employer in Renton, with 12,000 employees working at the Renton Boeing facility as of 2017.

Boeing announced its support for the decision Wednesday to ground the planes, while maintaining the company is confident in the 737 MAX. The company said the decision was out of an abundance of caution to “reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety.”

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in the statement that the company plans to deploy safety enhancements and ensure this doesn’t happen again.

The FAA’s statement on the grounding said the decision was a result of new evidence collected and analyzed at the crash site. The FAA also said the decision was bolstered by newly refined satellite data.

Any current flights were permitted to proceed and complete their landing, but no takeoffs are allowed, according to the official emergency order.

The order includes the two recent crashes as the basis for the order and states that data “indicates some similarities” and “possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents needs to be better understood and addressed.”

The full Boeing statement is available here:

The FAA statement is here:

The grounding will continue pending further investigation of flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders.

On Wednesday morning, Canada joined the list of nations and companies grounding the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircrafts, following the deadly crash.

The Canadian minister of transport Marc Garneau said they received new data this morning that helped make the decision. The European Union, China and India all grounded the 737 MAX 8 Tuesday. Satellite data showed the accident might be similar to a crash in October that killed 189 people.

On March 12, both FAA and Boeing released statements that there was not data that provided basis for grounding the aircraft.

Boeing also released a statement March 11 that a new software enhancement will be deployed across all 737 MAX aircrafts. That is expected in the coming weeks, according to the statement.

The Dallas News reported Tuesday that pilots in the U.S. had expressed concerns with the plane, specifically mentioning the safety mechanism that has been included in data related to the October crash.

Boeing tests the 737 MAX out of the Renton airport. The municipal airport, also known as Scott Clayton Field, is currently taking steps to modify the safety zone in compliance with regulations based on the number of large aircraft that use the runway.

There are several businesses and residences that currently sit within the zone that the FAA would recommend be cleared for potential take-off and landing issues.

Congressmen Rick Larsen (D-WA) released a responce saying that “not only should the 737 MAX be grounded, but also that there must be a rigorous investigation into why the aircraft, which has critical safety systems that did not exist on prior models, was certified without requiring additional pilot training.”

Larsen’s statement also said that the Subcommittee on Aviation will “get to the bottom of the FAA’s decision-making process.”


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