President Trump Grounds Boeing 737 MAXs in the US

I’ve just written that I believe the FAA was reasonable not to ground the Boeing 737 MAX, and that doing so brings along its own safety risks. I wrote that I hoped that new data would be what guides any shift in position.

Minutes after writing that, though, President Trump announced a grounding of the aircraft type. It’s not obvious that there’s been any actual new information which has become available since the FAA resisting doing so. The only meaningful news item has been Canada’s decision to ground the plane, also based on no new material information.

This decision comes after Southwest revealed a decision to add new angle of attack indicators to its fleet, matching what American Airlines already has on its MAX jets providing additional data to cockpit crew that could avert an incident similar to what happened to Lion Air’s MAX in October.


Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX Interior

Southwest Airlines has 34 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in service. American Airlines has 24. American already has several Boeing 737-800 planes out of service which had been modified to offer a similar interior to that found on their new MAX aircraft. Check your itineraries in the coming day for schedule changes and cancellations.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. “No new information has become available since the FAA resisting doing so. The only meaningful news item has been Canada’s decision to ground the plane, also based on no new material information.”

    I thought the Canadians took the decision precisely because they said they HAD new data.

  2. Yeah, the Canadians day they have new data that indicates it was the same issue as the Lion Air crash.

  3. “No new information has become available since the FAA resisting doing so. The only meaningful news item has been Canada’s decision to ground the plane, also based on no new material information.”

    I thought the Canadians took the decision precisely because they said they HAD new data.

    Canada cites ‘new data’ as it grounds Boeing’s 737 Max | Financial Times

    https://amp.ft.com/content/7ad92c46-45a9-11e9-b168-96a37d002cd3

  4. Canada cites ‘new data’ as it grounds Boeing’s 737 Max | Financial Times

    Canada said it had received “new data” about Sunday’s crash of a 737 Max aircraft that convinced it to ground the plane on Wednesday, becoming the first major aviation authority to signal the accident could be similar to one five months ago.

  5. the canadians did not appear to have any ACTUAL new data, that’s more or less cover, just like the FAA saying they had new information — the new information is what the President decided

  6. Perhaps the first good thing I’ve ever seen President Trump do since he has been in office
    Albeit a bit late but still on point

    BTW Fooky You Mr Parker/American
    Looks like you can’t force your customers with a noose around their neck this time around and screw them as you usually do with your offensive customer service decision making!
    You’ve been grounded officially
    So sad

  7. I know Gary was against this, but do you have this data: number of deaths per 100,000 flight hours for different models. I would think this one would be much higher than any other current commercial aircraft.

  8. Whatever happened to Trumps personal pilot to become head of FAA. Which as feckless as the FAA has acted, I wonder if it was a mistake to oppress that ‘boneheaded’ nomination.

  9. The FAA issued a statement at 3pm ET, the decision was made because of new evidence at the crash site and also newly refined satellite data.

  10. “the canadians did not appear to have any ACTUAL new data, that’s more or less cover, just like the FAA saying they had new information — the new information is what the President decided”

    And you have proof of this “cover”, Gary? Please cite your sources… or are you just hypothesizing? Let’s stick to the facts during this difficult time (for Boeing’s share price).

    Of course you have no proof – you’re talking out of your ample rear.

  11. @Gary: As I’ve been saying, “err on the side of caution”…if the Feds wouldn’t do that, at least consumers will. In point of fact, *if* the 737 Max-8/9 can be grounded without hysteria, it should be…erring on the side of caution.

    As others have already mentioned, what *I* heard NPR and CNN was that Canada had new satellite data that seemed to confirm the Ethiopian plane experienced the same/similar problems as the Lion Air flight, and this caused them to call for the [temporary] grounding of the MAX series. Once Canada did, I don’t think the FAA had a choice but to follow suit — Presidential tweets/statements notwithstanding.

  12. Just the fact that SW and AA had to install a modification means something is wrong with the plane. I don’t see how anyone could argue that the plane shouldn’t be grounded until Boeing released a fix for the problem identified by SW/AA.

    If the plane has something wrong with it, the burden should be on the manufacturer to fix it, not the pilots to have more training to know how to correct an inherent flaw. Or, Boeing should pay for every airline to send their pilots to Boeing not the required training on the faulty equipment.

    Should be grounded in either scenario until it’s fixed.

  13. Actually disappointed by your attitude (at least in the last article) out of (maybe) patriotism. The reasoning of FAA should not ground that no one is 100% sure that there is something wrong in the plane is bizarre. It definitely should be grounded because no one is 100% sure that there isn’t anything wrong in the plane.

  14. I agree with DZ’s comment above. Being not sure one way or the other should mean you take the safest route.

    I’m surprised that Gary came down on the wrong siude of this important issue, and I am thankful at least one other major blogger pushed for grounding.

  15. @JJ. Engineering hacks upon engineering hacks to make things work more or less. But when an edge case hits, correct and precise human intervention is relied upon or else there is a crash. Unfortunately no one has told this person how to cope with it. The bar for Boeing is set really high. Maybe it’s time for Boeing to go back to drawing board for a design not susceptible to unusual lift of its plane nose thus obsoleting MCAS.

  16. Finally!

    Information was available several days ago that the Ethiopian 737 experienced large variations in vertical speed after takeoff. The new info that grounded the plane was increased political pressure.

  17. @john There has been political pressure to ground and that not to ground. I guess the political pressure to ground won this time. This 737 Max still smells like an engineering hack and it does not seem robust. There is single point of failure in this MCAS system. Who knows what else is fallible there? During the grounding, Boeing can take its time to review the design and see what they can fix or make more robust, starting from their hardware (components, sensors, etc), software (pilot interface, etc) to training (pilots in developing countries would be properly trained to fly 7M). This will end up better for everyone. I fly in South East Asia often and this Boeing fiasco is scaring me.

  18. Gary, were you consulted by the White House or at least the FAA regarding this or these people just starting taking decisions on their own with no miles expert input??

  19. Umm the FAA does have new evidence. Not sure why you keep trying to push the narrative that there is no evidence out there of a potential problem with these planes. Per the FAA: “The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today. This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.”

  20. For me personally, 737 Max is a hack of aerodynamics and it becomes unstable under certain conditions. I don’t feel safe in one.

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