FAA says there is no reason to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets as other nations did following crash in Ethiopia

WASHINGTON - The Federal Aviation Administration declined to follow suit as the European Union and the United Kingdom joined China, Mexico, and other nations in grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8 passenger jets after an accident Sunday in Ethiopia.

DOT announces special committee to review FAA’s aircraft certification process; will be led on an interim basis by former Air Line Pilots Association chief Lee Moak and retired Air Force Gen. Darren McDew
DOT announces special committee to review FAA’s aircraft certification process; will be led on an interim basis by former Air Line Pilots Association chief Lee Moak and retired Air Force Gen. Darren McDew
WASHINGTON - The Federal Aviation Administration declined to follow suit as the European Union and the United Kingdom joined China, Mexico, and other nations in grounding Boeing 737 MAX 8 passenger jets after an accident Sunday in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash killed 157 people. While the cause of the crash has not yet been determined, preliminary observations show similarities with another crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people in October, 2018. Both crashes involved new aircraft with experienced pilots that crashed shortly after takeoff.

"Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to grounding the aircraft," said acting FAA administrator Dan Elwell yesterday evening. "Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action."

Yesterday, Boeing released a statement on 737 MAX operations, saying, "Safety is Boeing’s number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets. The United States Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators."

While U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted a statement claiming that "airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly," the White House did not make a firm statement on grounding the Boeing jet.

"We are going to be in constant contact through the Department of Transportation, the FAA, to make determinations at the appropriate time," commented press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to Fox News March 12.

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao noted that her agency is "monitoring the situation very carefully." According to Politico, the secretary flew from Austin, Texas to Washington, D.C., on a 737 MAX on Tuesday.

Related: The Boeing 737 MAX: Is the problem with the plane or the pilots?

While Boeing and the FAA have reiterated their confidence in the aircraft, some lawmakers along with air travel professionals have expressed concerns about continuing to fly the jets before a full investigation can be completed.

"Our flight attendants are very concerned with the recent Ethipian Airlines Flight 302 crash, which has raised safety concerns with the 737 Max 8," said Lori Bassani in a statement. Bossani was speaking on behalf of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants. "Many respected global carriers are grounding the planes."

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic candidate for president, joined fellow senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah, in stating their preference for taking the Boeing jet out of service.

"Today, immediately, the FAA needs to get these planes out of the sky," said Sen. Warren on Tuesday.

Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota was one of the lawmakers standing with the FAA.

"I just think we need to have the facts and evidence in," commented Sen. Thune. "I think the FAA is trying to move forward in a way that's deliberative and get into a place where they can make a decision about that."

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