President Donald Trump says the US is issuing an emergency order grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft following the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people.
Since the tragic crash, it has been revealed that last year several pilots flying the same model reported a terrifying glitch which caused them to plummet unexpectedly.
Many nations in the world have already barred the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its airspace but until now, the Federal Aviation Administration had been saying that it didn’t have any data to show the jets are unsafe.
Trump said on Wednesday that the FAA would be making the announcement soon to ground the planes.
He said any plane currently in the air will go to its destination and then be grounded.
Trump said pilots and airlines have been notified. The safety of the American people is of “paramount concern”, he added.
Pilots claim issue causes plane to ‘tilt down suddenly’
Airline pilots on at least two flights have reported that an automated system seemed to cause their Boeing planes to tilt down suddenly, the same problem suspected of contributing to a deadly crash in Indonesia.
The pilots said that soon after engaging the autopilot on Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, the nose tilted down sharply. In both cases, they recovered quickly after disconnecting the autopilot.
The pilot reports were filed last year in a data base compiled by NASA. They are voluntary safety reports and do not publicly reveal the names of pilots, the airlines or the location of the incidents.
It was unclear whether the accounts led to any actions by the FAA or the pilots’ airlines.
In one report, an airline captain said that immediately after putting the plane on autopilot, the co-pilot called out “Descending,” followed by an audio cockpit warning, “Don’t sink, don’t sink!”
The captain immediately disconnected the autopilot and resumed climbing.
“With the concerns with the MAX 8 nose down stuff, we both thought it appropriate to bring it to your attention,” the captain wrote. “Best guess from me is airspeed fluctuation” due to a brief weather system overwhelming the plane’s automation.
On another flight, the co-pilot said that seconds after engaging the autopilot, the nose pitched downward and the plane began descending at 1,200 to 1,500 feet per minute.
As in the other flight, the plane’s low-altitude-warning system issued an audio warning. The captain disconnected autopilot, and the plane began to climb.
The pilots talked it over later, “but can’t think of any reason the aircraft would pitch nose down so aggressively,” the co-pilot recounted.
Flights turned around mid-air
The decision comes after the UK banned all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft from entering its airspace.
As the bans fell in place on Tuesday, two Turkish Airways flights were forced to turn around as they could no longer land in London and Birmingham respectively.
The Ethiopian Airlines crash is the second involving the 737 MAX five months after the same model flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing all 189 on board.
Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Oman, Namibia and all European Union countries have made national bans for the Boeing 737 MAX jets.
Virgin Australia announced it won’t introduce any new Boeing 737 Max 8 planes unless satisfied they are safe, as authorities suspended airlines from using the model.
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