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

The United States has said there is “ no basis ” to ground Boeing 737 MAX airliners, after a second deadly crash involving the model in less than five months prompted governments worldwide to ban the plane .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 chief Daniel Elwell said in a statement on Tuesday .

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 action against the aircraft has put pressure on Boeing — the world ’ s biggest plane manufacturer — to prove the 737 MAX is 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 bans on international travel routes was unclear . There are about 350 MAX 8 s currently in service around the world .

Air Canada , for example , announced it was cancelling flights to London following Britain ’ s decision to ban the aircraft .

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

“ At this early stage of the related investigation , it cannot be excluded that similar causes may have contributed to both events , ” it said , referring to the Ethiopian and Lion Air crashes

– ‘ Precautionary measure ’ –

As the number of bans and groundings of the 737 MAX grew, US President Donald Trump weighed in with a tweet on Tuesday: “ Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly . ”

“ Pilots are no longer needed , but rather computer scientists from MIT , ” he wrote , referring to the prestigious university .

He later spoke by telephone to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg , who assured the president 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 .

But it was not enough to reassure the UK Civil Aviation Authority , which said it was banning the planes from British airspace “ as a precautionary measure ” .

Global air travel hub Singapore , as well as Australia , Malaysia and Oman , were among the other countries to ban MAX planes .

Vietnam , New Zealand and Hong Kong joined them on Wednesday .

Currently , no Vietnamese carriers fly 737 MAXs , but budget carrier Vietjet has ordered 200 of them .

China , a hugely important market for Boeing , on Monday ordered domestic airlines to suspend operations of the plane .

And 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 .

– ‘ 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 1970 s — when the McDonnell Douglas DC- 10 suffered successive fatal incidents — has a new model been involved in two deadly accidents in such a short period .

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 .

Investigators have recovered the black box flight recorders , which could potentially provide information about what happened , depending on their condition .

( AFP)

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