The US aviation regulator is hoping the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max series airliners is as “short as possible” but says it will take “months” for the necessary software updates.
US President Donald Trump instructed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to order the grounding of all 737 Max 8 and Max 9 airplanes on Wednesday, citing safety concerns following the fatal crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people on Sunday.
In a conference call with reporters, acting FAA administrator Daniel K. Elwell said he did not know how long the grounding will last, but hoped it would be short. Boeing’ stock took a dive after the announcement, and the flagship US plane manufacturer is looking at more losses the longer the shutdown goes on.
The FAA seemed to acknowledge there was a problem with the 737 Max software, saying that it would take “months” to complete the update to almost 400 Max 8 and Max 9 jets around the world. There are 74 planes of those two models registered to operate in the US, according to the FAA.
Ethiopian Airlines plane’s flight recorders are on their way to France, the regulator told reporters. The airline originally wanted to send the black boxes to Germany, but the Germans said they lacked the software needed for the proper analysis.
Pressure mounted on the US government to ground the jets after Canada followed the lead of the rest of the world in prohibiting operations of the 737 Max series in its airspace on Wednesday.
The 737 MAX series was introduced in 2016 as the fourth-generation update to the narrow-body airliner that first flew in 1967. The crash in Ethiopia was the second fatal accident involving the airplane model in five months, following the October 2018 disaster in Indonesia that killed 189.
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