RIC not affected by 737 plane groundings; local pilot weighs in

Richmond airport not affected by plane grounding

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Officials with Richmond International Airport said in a statement operations are not affected after the Federal Aviation Administration grounds Boeing 737 Max planes.

President Donald Trump announced an emergency order from the Federal Aviation Administration grounding Boeing 737 Max jets after the Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday and a Lion Air accident in October.

Passengers described being in their planes ready for take-off when all of a sudden they weren’t went back to the gate.

“We were about to take off and then we couldn’t take off,” Southwest passenger Sonya said.

“My dad called me and told me all the 737 were being grounded by Trump,” Another Southwest Passenger Ethan said.

Sonya and Ethan were both on a Southwest Max Jet about to take off from Reagan Airport in Northern Virginia before the plane had to turn around and return to the gate.

“I have absolute confidence in these airplanes. I have flown them my whole life,” Capt. Latane Campbell said.

Campbell is a 20-year veteran pilot and said the black box on the crashed plane holds the answers needed for the investigation.

“It’s looking at hundreds of parameters of how the airplane is being flown and what’s being said in the cockpit," Campbell said. “There are only a couple of places that can decode it like Paris and Washington, DC.”

The United States joined a growing list of major countries around the world pulling the brakes on the plane.

“American Airlines has about 25, United Airlines has about 20 and Southwest Airlines has about 45 to 50,” Campbell said.

Campbell said there’s a need for more pilots and training, as experienced pilots are making their final approach to the runway.

“It was a brand new captain at 29 years old and 200-hour first officer. That’s tough mix when something is going on. You need some really experienced guys when something is going wrong,” Campbell said.

As the cause of both crashes that killed 346 people remains under investigation, Campbell said passengers should still have faith in taking to the skies.

“I take time to watch every one of my passengers board to remind me of the responsibility I have,” Campbell said.

Campbell believes we should know some definite answers of what happened in the cockpit in Sunday’s crash as early as Friday.

The Chicago-based Boeing Company said it supported the order and had recommended that the FAA ground its fleet of 371 jets around the world.

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