Boeing 737 Max plane lands at Midway following order from Trump, FAA grounding aircraft

CHICAGO -- Some Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 planes were still in the air when President Donald Trump announced he was grounding the aircraft, including one flight that landed at Midway just after 4 p.m.

Trump called his instruction "an emergency order of prohibition."

The FAA followed up with a formal order, saying it "made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today." The agency said the grounding will remain in effect "pending further investigation."

One of the last Boeing 737 Max 8 planes was still in the air at the time of the proclamation, a flight from Las Vegas to Chicago's Midway International Airport. Once it landed the plane will not take off again until the FAA can guarantee the safety of the aircrafts.

"They shouldn't be putting citizen lives in danger," said Makinna Neal, passenger.

"We didn't know while we were in the air," said Patrick Martin, passenger. "Just happened to pull up Southwest WiFi and was watching TV and saw it on the news."

Flight attendants were among those who expressed concerns about the planes after two deadly and strikingly similar plane crashes.

"The aircraft, as we function, based on our knowledge base, is safe to fly but we're completely empathetic to the human event here, where people were anxious, uncertain, and our job is simply to ensure that they're safe," said Dennis Tajer, spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association.

In 2018 a Lion Air jet crashed in Indonesians seas, killing 189 people. Then Sunday another Boeing 737 Max 8 plane, this time operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed in clear weather six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa.

Safety experts cautioned, however, against drawing too many parallels between the two disasters.

"I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far," said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

The situation will be better understood after investigators analyze the Ethiopian plane's black boxes, said William Waldock, an aviation-safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Boeing said in a statement that the company "continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX" but will "recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft."

"We are supporting this proactive step out of an abundance of caution. Safety is a core value at Boeing for as long as we have been building airplanes and it always will be. There is no greater priority for our company and our industry. We are doing everything we can to understand the cause of the accidents in partnership with the investigators, deploy safety enhancements and help ensure this does not happen again," Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said.

WLS-TV contributed to this report
Copyright © 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.