Every single Boeing 737 Max plane around the world now stands grounded

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 14, 2019, 01.24 AM(IST)

Aerolineas Argentinas Boeing 737 MAX 8. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The US and Canada were the only two countries still allowing the Boeing 737 Max to fly but they too have now changed their minds. 

US President Donald Trump announced early on Thursday that the US would be grounding the Boeing 737 Max plane. Canada had done the same a little earlier. 

"As a result of new data that we received this morning, and had the chance to analyze, and on the advice of my experts and as a precautionary measure, I issued a safety notice," Candian Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters.

"This safety notice restricts commercial passenger flights from any operator of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 or MAX 9 variant aircraft, whether domestic or foreign, from arriving, departing or overflying Canadian air space. 

"This safety notice is effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice."

Trump meanwhile told reporters at the White House that "the planes are grounded effective immediately."

As a result, virtually every single Boeing Max plane around the world — there were about 370 of them in service — now stands grounded. (The US and Canada were the last holdouts.) 

The economic backlash was swift. 

Boeing shares tumbled 2%. The aviation company's shares have fallen about 13%  since last Sunday's crash of an Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 737 Max 8 plane.  

That crash, which killed all 157 people on board, was the second of a Boeing 737 Max plane in less than 5 months. 

On October 29 last year, a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max plane had crashed into the Java Sea shortly after taking off, killing all 189 people on board

The two crashes were eerily similar. 

The Lion Air plane crashed 12 minutes after taking off. 

The Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed six minutes after taking off. (The pilot had asked for permission to return and had been given it but he was unable to make it back to Addis Ababa.) 

The nose of the Lion Air plane — one of its pilots was a Delhi boy — had after takeoff suddenly begun to pitch downwards. The pilots would pull up, but the nose would pitch down again... 

The cause is thought to be the plane's stabilisation system, which pulls the nose down to prevent the aircraft from stalling. 

The cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash is still not known, but reports have now begun to appear of other pilots saying the nose of the Boeing 737 Max can tend to suddenly pitch downwards. 

Boeing has continued to say the 737 Max is safe. On Thursday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said he supported the US decision to ground the 737 Max but that he continues to have "full confidence" in the plane.

That said, it is safe to say the economic costs Boeing will have to pay will be large. 

The 737 Max was Boeing's most popular mid-haul jet — apart from the ones in service, the company had orders for 3.500 more. 

India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation for one however has said it will not be accepting any more of the jets until the investigations into the crashes are complete. 

It is expected a number of other countries will follow suit. 

And Norway's low-cost carrier Norwegian Air has said it will ask Boeing to pay for the losses it has had to incur as a result of having to ground its eighteen 737 Max aircraft. 

Other airlines may follow suit. 

It is important to note however that Norwegian has a total fleet of 163 aircraft, and so far the company says it is maintaining its order for 50 more Boeing 737 Max aircraft which the airline expects to take delivery of by end-2021. 

(With inputs from agencies)