POLITICS

Pressure Mounts For FAA To Ground Boeing 737 Max 8 Planes After Deadly Crashes

The FAA has resisted calls from Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Mitt Romney and others to ground the aircraft until a full investigation is complete.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) have joined calls for all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft to be grounded across the U.S. following two fatal crashes involving the model over four months.

“The world has now witnessed the second tragic crash of one of these planes in less than six months,” Warren, a 2020 presidential contender, said Tuesday in a statement.

“While we do not know the causes of these crashes, serious questions have been raised about whether these planes were pressed into service without additional pilot training in order to save money,” she said, referring to Boeing’s claim that pilots of these planes required less training.

Despite calls for the plane’s grounding, the Federal Aviation Administration said on Tuesday that it would let the Boeing 737 Max 8 remain in service because the agency’s own reviews show no “systemic performance issues.”

“The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX,” the agency said in a statement to The New York Times. “Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.” 

This Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 plane, seen in November, crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia,
This Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 plane, seen in November, crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday. It was the second fatal crash involving the same plane model in five months.

Warren pointed to suspensions already put in place by the United Kingdom, China, Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, France, Germany and Ireland. Airlines in Mexico, Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Norway and Turkey have also halted the planes’ use.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has suspended all Boeing Model 737-8 MAX and 737-9 MAX airplanes into, out of or within its airspace.

The FAA “should follow their lead, reverse their decision, and immediately ground this plane in the United States until its safety can be assured,” Warren said.

Romney issued a similar request in a statement posted to Twitter, which he said he made “out of an abundance of caution ... until we investigate the causes of recent crashes and ensure the plane’s airworthiness.”

The senators’ requests come two days after 157 people died in an Ethiopian Airlines crash. That tragedy came four months after a Lion Air jet of the same model crashed in Indonesia, killing 189 people.

The cause of Sunday’s crash remains unknown. An investigation into the October crash has focused on the plane’s software system, as well as airline training and maintenance.

President Donald Trump also weighed in on concerns about aviation on Tuesday, tweeting that “airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly.”

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!” he wrote, adding that “often old and simpler is far better.”

Boeing has said that there is no reason to ground the aircrafts and that it does not intend to issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers.

On Monday, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) also called for the Boeing planes to be grounded until the aircrafts’ safety could be ensured.

This story has been updated with the FAA’s statement and an expanded list of countries that have grounded the plane.

Carla Herreria contributed to this report.

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