BFF-01,02 US says ‘no basis’ to ground Boeing 737 MAX jets after crash





US says ‘no basis’ to ground Boeing 737 MAX jets after crash

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – The United States said Tuesday there is “no

basis” to ground Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, after a second deadly crash involving the

model in less than five months prompted governments worldwide to ban the aircraft.

Despite the aviation giant’s assurances that the plane is safe and reliable, the

European Union, Britain and India joined China and other countries grounding the plane

or banning it from their airspace as they await the results of the investigation into

the crash.

But the US has so far refused to take similar action against the American aerospace

giant’s best-selling workhorse aircraft.

“Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to

order grounding the aircraft,” Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Daniel

Elwell said in a statement.

A new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 went down minutes into a flight from Addis Ababa

to Nairobi on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.

That followed the October crash of a new Lion Air jet of the same model in Indonesia,

which killed 189 people shortly after takeoff from Jakarta.

The widening actions against the aircraft puts pressure on Boeing — the world’s

biggest plane manufacturer — to prove the MAX planes are safe, and the company has

said it is rolling out flight software updates by April that could address issues with

a faulty sensor.

The full extent of the impact of the aircraft bans on international travel routes was

unclear. There are about 350 MAX 8 planes currently in service around the world.

Air Canada, for example, announced it was canceling flights to London following

Britain’s decision to ban the aircraft.

The EU aviation safety agency also closed European airspace to all MAX planes.

It noted that the “exact causes” of the Lion Air crash were still being


MORE/AU/07:30 hrs




“At this early stage of the related investigation, it cannot be excluded that

similar causes may have contributed to both events,” the agency added.

– ‘Precautionary measure’ –

India joined the list of countries to ban the jet, a day after saying it had imposed

additional interim safety requirements for ground engineers and crew for the aircraft.

New Zealand has also temporarily banned the aircraft from its airspace.

Turkish Airlines, one of the largest carriers in the world, said it was suspending

use of its 12 MAX aircraft from Wednesday, until “uncertainty” was clarified.

Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle, South Korea’s Eastar Jet and South Africa’s

Comair also said they would halt flights.

US President Donald Trump weighed in with a blistering tweet on Tuesday: “Airplanes

are becoming far too complex to fly.”

“Pilot are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT,” he wrote,

referring to the prestigious university.

Trump later spoke by telephone to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who assured him the

aircraft is safe, an industry source told AFP.

US carriers have so far appeared to maintain confidence in Boeing, which has been

ordered by the FAA to make changes to flight systems and pilot training procedures.

The move was not enough to reassure the UK Civil Aviation Authority, which said it

was banning the planes from UK airspace “as a precautionary measure.”

Global air travel hub Singapore, as well as Australia, Malaysia and Oman, were among

the other countries to ban all MAX planes from their airspace.

China, a hugely important market for Boeing, has ordered domestic airlines to

suspend operations of the plane.

– ‘Significant industry impact’ –

Boeing has described the MAX series as its fastest-selling family of planes, with

more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers.

But not since the 1970s — when the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 suffered successive fatal

incidents — has a new model been involved in two deadly accidents in such a short


Thomas Anthony, head of the Aviation Safety and Security Program at the University of

Southern California, said increasing automation of planes means crews have less

experience flying manually.

“So it’s not just a mechanical, it is not just a software problem, but it is a

problem of communication and trust,” he said.

The plane involved in Sunday’s crash was less than four months old, with Ethiopian

Airlines saying it was delivered on November 15.

It went down near the village of Tulu Fara, some 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of

Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said the plane had flown in

from Johannesburg, spent three hours in Addis and was “dispatched with no remark,”

meaning no problems were flagged.

Investigators have recovered the black box flight recorders, which could potentially

provide information about what happened, depending on their condition.

BSS/AFP/AU/07:35 hrs