ATW Editor's Blog

US, under pressure, grounds MAX

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A stunning week, beginning with the second crash of a Boeing 737 MAX and, three days later, every single MAX is grounded—and the US was last to make that call.

Canada’s grounding decision made it almost impossible for FAA to avoid that decision.

It bears repeating that we still don’t know what caused either the Indonesian or the Ethiopian aircraft to crash. FAA was right to emphasize this fact to make clear it had no information to link the crashes. But the agency lost those messages in the overwhelming media attention and public concern as all other countries and authorities instead took the “abundance of caution until we know more” route.

Canada, worryingly, said it had “new information” that led to its grounding call. It is very difficult to believe that any country or aviation authority has more information on the MAX or these incidents than FAA.

Also concerning is the apparent delay in getting the Ethiopian Airlines’ black boxes to a place where they can have their data extracted and examined, apparently because of a disagreement about whether a European or US agency should conduct that examination. Given the urgent need to know as much as possible as soon as possible, such delay is difficult to understand.

Questions will still be asked about why the US was the last to make a grounding call. But with no MAXs flying, the focus can at least return to where it needs to be; finding answers through a thorough and methodical investigation.

Karen Walker karen.walker@informa.com

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