Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets grounded right, left and centre. But not in US

A plane crash that killed 157 people in Ethiopia on Sunday has triggered groundings of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes across the globe, but the aerospace giant’s home — the United States — still allows the jets to fly.

India joined the wave of suspensions on Tuesday by saying passenger safety was its top priority. The European Union bloc and Australia are among the other nations that have halted operations.

Three US carriers use the 737 MAX: Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines.

All three have decided to keep flying the jets, but concerned potential passengers have asked on social media if they can change or cancel flights.

The US’s aviation regulator has said a review “shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.”

Boeing said in a statement on Tuesday it had “full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX”. Reuters reported, citing two sources, that CEO Dennis Muilenburg told US President Donald Trump that the aircraft was safe and didn’t need to be grounded.

“Safety is Boeing’s number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX.”

Donald Trump said on Tuesday in back-to-back tweets that he preferred flights operated by “great flying professionals” allowed to quickly take control, even as he warned of the dangers of complex technology. He did not specifically mention Boeing or the Ethiopian crash.

But his comments echoed an automation debate that partially lies at the centre of a probe into October’s Lion Air crash in Indonesia. (The plane was also a 737 MAX.)

Investigators are examining the role of a software system designed to push the plane down, alongside airline training and repair standards. Boeing says it plans to update the software in coming weeks.

The world’s biggest planemaker, Boeing has seen billions of dollars wiped off its market value since the crash in Ethiopia.

As many as 189 people were killed in the Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX crash in Indonesia five months ago, but there’s no evidence yet whether the two crashes are linked.

Plane experts say it’s too early to speculate on the reason for the latest crash.

Inputs from agencies


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