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Boeing Grounds Entire Fleet Of 737 Max Planes After Mounting Pressure

In an extraordinary about-turn, Boeing has now grounded its entire fleet of 737 Max aircraft after aviation authorities worldwide basically did the job for them.

The announcement came after the US and Canada -- the last two countries still operating a large number of the planes -- grounded their fleets.

In a statement, Boeing said it was grounding the 737 Max "out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft's safety".

The manufacturer said it still has "full confidence" in the planes, despite two deadly crashes in five months.

IMAGE: Getty Images

"On behalf of the entire Boeing team, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who have lost their lives in these two tragic accidents," CEO Dennis Muilenburg said.

"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.”

Image: Ethiopian Airlines Twitter

Boeing said it supported the decision made by the US Federal Aviation Authority, which said it grounded the planes due to "new evidence collected at the site" of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, where 149 people died.

"This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision," the FAA said.

"The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders. An FAA team is in Ethiopia assisting the NTSB as parties to the investigation of the Flight 302 accident. The agency will continue to investigate."

Wednesday saw country after country -- including Australia -- suspend 737 Max aircraft from taking off or landing, which saw some flights turned around mid-flight.

Virgin Australia is reportedly considering cancelling its order of 30 of the planes, which are due in November.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au