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Trump grounds Boeing 737 Max models, following other nations' lead

Noah Bierman, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump grounded Boeing's 737 Max planes Wednesday, following the lead of 51 other countries that have ordered an indefinite freeze in flying the model involved in two calamitous crashes.

"The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern," Trump said during a meeting at the White House.

"All of those planes are grounded, effective immediately," Trump said.

The order affects the Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9. Trump said any planes currently in the air would be grounded upon completion of their flights "until further notice." He added, "Boeing is an incredible company. They are working very, very hard right now."

Trump's decision came after Canada joined much of the world in grounding Boeing Co.'s 737 Max jetliner Wednesday, which had left the United States virtually alone in allowing the aircraft to keep flying.

The announcement by Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau came after aviation authorities in Europe, India, China and elsewhere grounded the plane in the aftermath of two fatal crashes in the last six months involving the 737 Max, the latest version of Boeing's hugely popular twin-engine jetliner.

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Garneau told reporters that Canada banned the plane from operating in the country, or flying over it, because of inconclusive data suggesting similarities between the crashes. The second accident occurred Sunday when an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed after takeoff, killing 157 people.

Before Trump acted, the FAA had not grounded the aircraft, saying Tuesday that the agency had found "no basis" for taking such action.

Other aviation observers also have raised questions about the Max version of the 737, which is the most-produced aircraft in Boeing's line of jetliners, with more than 5,000 on order worldwide.

The FAA and Garneau's agency work closely on most aviation matters, but Garneau said, "We make our own decisions in Canada and occasionally those decisions may be different from our colleagues south of the border."

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