U.S.

Southwest Airlines Flight on Boeing 737 Max 8 Grounded Tuesday After In-Air Emergency

A Southwest Airlines flight, on a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that was in transit to be put in short-term storage, was grounded Tuesday afternoon shortly after takeoff and an emergency landing in Florida.

The two-person crew—a pilot and co-pilot—reported an engine problem shortly after takeoff from Orlando International Airport, where they returned and landed safely, the Federal Aviation Administration reported. The report stated there were no passengers aboard the plane, other than the pilots.

The journey on Southwest Flight 8701 was destined for Victorsville, California, where the plane would have stayed grounded in short-term storage until further notice, according to Fox 35 in Orlando.

Michael Lopardi of WFTV reported the crew aboard Flight 8701 “followed protocol” by turning the plane around and landing safely, and that the plane will moved to a maintenance facility in Orlando.

Airport officials in Orlando have said two other runways are open and flights at the airport have not been impacted, WFTV said.

President Donald Trump had previously ordered all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 planes to be grounded two weeks ago following an Ethiopian Air crash that killed 157 people on board. That tragedy followed a similar crash by Indonesia’s Lion Air in late October 2018 that left 189 dead. Reports indicate the same problems in both deadly flights, prompting the mass grounding around the globe.

After the Ethiopian Air crash in Nairobi this month, some countries began voluntarily grounding their 737 Max 8 aircraft, and American lawmakers started calling for grounding those aircraft in the United States. Now there are more than 50 countries that have grounded the aircraft, including the U.S.

President Trump called Boeing an “incredible company” despite the “terrible” crash.

"It's a terrible, terrible thing," Trump said after grounding the aircraft. "Boeing is an incredible company. They are working very hard right now."

There are approximately 250 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft operated in the United States, with Southwest operating 34 of them. There are six other 737 Max 8 aircraft already grounded at Orlando’s airport, according to Fox 35.

American Airlines recently ordered 100 units of the 737 Max model, and has 24 in service around the country.

“American continues to collaborate with the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] and other regulatory authorities, as the safety of our team members and customers is our number one priority. We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members, who are the best and most experienced in the industry,” a spokesperson for American Airlines said.

Investigators from different countries are trying to determine what happened in the latest crash by examining the black box from the cockpit.

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