Citing new evidence suggesting a possible connection between two crashes of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft that happened five months apart, the U.S. announced the grounding of all 737 Max planes.
President Donald Trump announced the grounding on Wednesday after Canadian aviation officials also grounded the 737 Max planes operating in their airspace. Federal Aviation Administration officials had been reluctant at first to follow the leads of others like China, Singapore and the European Union who ordered the planes grounded the day after an Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed minutes after it took off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. Following President Trump’s announcement, the F.A.A. said that the decision was based off of new satellite data that showed “vertical fluctuations” and “oscillations” that echoed what was reported during the October 2018 crash of a Lion Air flight in Indonesia that killed 189 people. Ethiopian Airlines has also said that one of the two pilots in Sunday’s crash had asked and been cleared to return to the airport just three minutes before air traffic controllers lost contact.
What does this new data tell us about the possible connection between the Lion Air and Ethiopian Air crashes? What does this mean for commercial air travel in the United States? How is the F.A.A responding? How are airlines like American, Southwest and United, all of whom count the 737 Max 8 among the jet models in their fleets, going to address this issue?
Lt. Col Kevin Kuhlman (Ret.), professor and associate chair of aviation and aerospace science at Metropolitan State University of Denver; he is a former commercial airline pilot and served for 30 years in the U.S. Air Force, where he was an aircraft commander, flight instructor and safety officer who conducted accident investigation duties