Countries quickly grounding Boeing 737 Max planes acted 'prematurely' and were not based in 'facts,' says GOP congressman

  • Actions taken by countries to ground Boeing 737 Max planes before new evidence emerged Wednesday were "premature" and not based on "facts," Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., says.
  • "You can't go out there and start grounding aircraft and cause a disruption in air travel and business around the United States and around the world based on emotion," he adds.

Quick actions by dozens of countries to ground Boeing 737 Max planes before new evidence emerged Wednesday were "premature" and not based on "facts," the ranking member on the Aviation subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee told CNBC.

"You can't go out there and start grounding aircraft and cause a disruption in air travel and business around the United States and around the world based on emotion," Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., told "Closing Bell." "If you took that same standard and applied it to cars, boats and everything else, we'd all be walking."

New evidence emerged Wednesday showing that the behavior of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 before its crash Sunday was similar to that of the Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 before it plunged into the Java Sea in October shortly after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA said Wednesday it would ground all Boeing 737 Max jets, a turnaround from its decision earlier in the week.

President Donald Trump said he spoke with Boeing's CEO, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and the acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Daniel Elwell, about the decision.

The U.S. had been a notable holdout among other nations for allowing the Boeing planes to fly as investigators sought clues as to what brought down the plane. Dozens of countries and airlines grounded planes in the wake of the Ethiopian crash that killed 157 people.

Earlier in the week, U.S. flight attendants and ground crews urged their airlines to take their Boeing 737 Max airplanes out of service.

Graves, who said he supported the FAA's actions Wednesday, argued the new evidence "is the first evidence that even potentially connects the two crashes that would simply justify" grounding Boeing 737 Max planes.

Flying "continues to be the safest form of transportation," he added. "In the United States, we've had tens of thousands of flights on the 737 8."

— CNBC's Leslie Josephs contributed to this report.