President Donald Trump announced the US is grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 planes three days after a deadly crash in Ethiopia involving one of the aircrafts.
"We're going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9 and planes associated with that line," he said from the White House on Wednesday afternoon.
He added the grounding would be in place "until further notice" and that the Federal Aviation Authority had received new information, including physical evidence from the site of the crash in Ethiopia.
Trump said pilots and airlines have been notified and any affected planes currently in the air will be grounded upon landing.
"The safety of the American people, of all people, is our paramount concern,” Trump said.
Until Wednesday, the US had been one of the last major holdouts to ground the plane models that have now been involved in two deadly crashes.
The first was a Lion Air Max 8 jet that crashed in the Java Sea on Oct. 29, 2018, killing all 189 people on board. The second was on Sunday, when an Ethiopian Airlines flight went down shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board.
In a statement, the FAA said it made the decision "as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today.
"The evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision."
The move is a reversal from previous statements released by the FAA. Just a day ago, the FAA had tweeted that a review had shown "no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft."
In a statement, Boeing said the company itself recommended the suspension that after consulting with the FAA and US National Transportation Safety Board. The company said the move came "out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety."
"Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX," said the statement.
Trump also had kind words for the aircraft manufacturer.
"Boeing is an incredible company. They are working very, very hard right now. And hopefully they'll very quickly come up with the answer, but until they do the planes are grounded," he said.
Southwest Airlines, which was flying the affected planes up until today's announcement, said it is "immediately complying" with the order. Any passengers affected by the grounding can rebook alternate flights without additional fees or fare differences within 14 days of their original date of travel.
"While we remain confident in the MAX 8 after completing more than 88,000 flight hours accrued over 41,000 flights, we support the actions of the FAA and other regulatory agencies and governments across the globe that have asked for further review of the data — including information from the flight data recorder — related to the recent accident involving the MAX 8," the company said in a statement.