FAA

Trump Says FAA Will Ground Boeing Model That Crashed in Ethiopia

"The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern," Trump said.

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Nicolas Economou/ZUMA Press/Newscom

President Donald Trump said Wednesday the U.S. government will ground the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, days after an Ethiopian Airiness plane crashed and killed all 157 people aboard.

Trump will issue an "emergency order to ground all 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9, and planes associated with that line," according to CNN. "Pilots have been notified, airlines have been all notified. Airlines are agreeing with this. The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern," the president added, explaining that both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration were "in agreement."

The plane that crashed in Ethiopia is similar to the Boeing Max 8 model that went down off the coast of Indonesia last October. It's still not exactly clear what caused the Ethiopian Airlines crash. But in announcing that his country would be grounding Boeing 737 Max aircraft on Tuesday, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau mentioned a "possible similarity" between both incidents, according to CBS News.

Similar "vertical fluctuations" and "oscillations" were evident in the tracing data from both flights, The New York Times reported Garneau as saying. In addition to Canada, governments from the European Union, China, and Iraq have also grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. FAA Administrator Dan Elwell preiously said in a statement Tuesday the agency's review of the 737 Max model "shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft." A Trump administration official did tell Politico that the White House and the FAA were in "constant contact" regarding the issue. Now, it appears the administration has decided otherwise.

"The FAA is ordering the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory," the FAA said in a statement. "The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today. This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision."

It is important to note that there's no universal consensus on whether the groundings are necessary. That's because there isn't yet clear-cut evidence that the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes were related. While the plane that crashed last October had technical issues prior to takeoff, the Ethiopian Airlines flight did not. Retired airline pilot and current accident investigator John Cox explained in a Los Angeles Times column why we shouldn't jump to conclusions:

Until the data from the recorders are analyzed, the FAA cannot determine if an "unsafe condition" exists. And only if they determine that an "unsafe condition" exists can they ground the airplane. Unless the actions the FAA takes are consistently based on facts and data, then they aren't actually enhancing safety.

In the aftermath of an aviation catastrophe, everyone wants an immediate answer to ensure it doesn't happen again. The news media highlight the questions and fears in their daily (or hourly) updates. Anxiety mounts. In this case we need to let the well-proven investigative process work. This process takes time, and we have to be patient.

As Reason's Stephanie Slade has pointed out, in the aftermath of deadly tragedies, airlines will voluntarily take precautions to ensure safety so that passengers aren't afraid to fly with them. The same goes for plane manufacturers like Boeing.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

60 responses to “Trump Says FAA Will Ground Boeing Model That Crashed in Ethiopia

  1. You know who else grounded some models?

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  2. OK.
    Was there a point here?

    1. “As Reason’s Stephanie Slade has pointed out, in the aftermath of deadly tragedies, airlines will voluntarily take precautions to ensure safety so that passengers aren’t afraid to fly with them. The same goes for plane manufacturers like Boeing.”

      I think that’s what he’s going for. The tack I would go with is that political considerations can compel politicians to act when they shouldn’t.

      “It is important to note that there’s no universal consensus on whether the groundings are necessary. That’s because there isn’t yet clear-cut evidence that the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes were related”

      The fact that there may not be a universal consensus on whether the groundings are necessary is probably why Trump felt compelled to act. If an airline rationally came to the conclusion that flying was okay and another 737 Max went down–for any reason–the Democrats would hang those deaths on Trump for his failure to act. Hell, they’re probably looking for ways to blame this on him already.

      1. Ken Shultz: “If an airline rationally came to the conclusion that flying was okay…

        Define “rationally”.

        You’re implying that the decision is question which Boeing would make would be that the 737 MAX was safe to fly.

        The trouble is airlines, like all corporations, exist to make money. The profit motive is their motivation. If Boeing were to make the judgment call that grounding such aircraft would be detrimental to its profit margin (by cutting into confidence in the aircraft and thus how many sales of such planes they make) and that it would therefore be better to keep the planes flying for a while longer that would be just as much a RATIONAL decision as a decision based on safety factors. Indeed, it would be one many libertarians would applaud. (Which is why they keep suupporting the cutting back of regulations. Including safety regulations.)

        Ken Shultz: “…and another 737 Max went down–for any reason–the Democrats would hang those deaths on Trump for his failure to act.

        If you yourself lost a loved one in such a crash, wouldn’t YOU be inclined to blame Trump (or Boeing) for not acting?

        1. “…The trouble is airlines, like all corporations, exist to make money. The profit motive is their motivation….”

          And since no other possible considerations exist for such a horrible FOR PROFIT KKORPURASUN, they’d gladly crash the entire flying public into the ground!
          Right? RIGHT? Beat that strawman to death.
          ————————
          “”Ken Shultz: “…and another 737 Max went down–for any reason–the Democrats would hang those deaths on Trump for his failure to act. ”
          If you yourself lost a loved one in such a crash, wouldn’t YOU be inclined to blame Trump (or Boeing) for not acting?”

          I noticed you left out the part “for any reason”, and then asked if Ken (and others) would blame Trump/Boeing.
          So, lefty twit, if one went down in a collision I’m damned sure YOU would blame both.

          1. @Sevo: “And since no other possible considerations exist for such a horrible FOR PROFIT KKORPURASUN,

            Careful, Sevo! You can’t have it both ways. Libertarians can’t brandish the profit motive in support of why free enterprise works BETTER than government at delivering services and products then proceed to argue that profit is merely one of “other possible considerations” a corporarion uses when making decisions, including business decisions.

            That would merely beg the question as to whether OTHER decisions–business decisions–were being influenced by non-profit-related motivations, and thereby open a can of worms I suspect that you and others might not like!

            @Sevo: “lefty twit

            Resorting to gratuitous insults doesn”t help your argument, Sevo. It merely signals desperation.

            1. Stephen54321|3.14.19 @ 1:11AM|#
              “Careful, Sevo! You can’t have it both ways. Libertarians can’t brandish the profit motive in support of why free enterprise works BETTER than government at delivering services and products then proceed to argue that profit is merely one of “other possible considerations” a corporarion uses when making decisions, including business decisions.”

              You stupid piece of shit, there is no ‘having it two ways’ there.
              ———————————–
              “That would merely beg the question as to whether OTHER decisions–business decisions–were being influenced by non-profit-related motivations, and thereby open a can of worms I suspect that you and others might not like!”

              No, you fucking ignoramus, I’d be happy to point out your further stupidity.
              —————————
              @Sevo: “lefty twit”
              “Resorting to gratuitous insults doesn”t help your argument, Sevo. It merely signals desperation.”

              Stuff it, lefty twit.

              1. @Sevo: I notice, Sevo, that you find it impossible to have a civilised debate with anyone. You keep wanting to hurl ad hom insults.

                @Sevo: “You stupid piece of shit, there is no ‘having it two ways’ there.

                I notice you can’t be bothered to explain WHY I’m wrong. Blithe assertions prove nothing. Haven’t they taught you that yet in school?

                @Sevo: “Stuff it, lefty twit.

                Temper, temper! Play nice or your mom will take away youi Internet connection. If you’re going to act like a spoilt seven-year-old you won’t get any respect.

                1. Stephen54321|3.14.19 @ 8:38PM|#
                  “@Sevo: I notice, Sevo, that you find it impossible to have a civilised debate with anyone. You keep wanting to hurl ad hom insults.”
                  I notice, you stupid lefty shit, that you have not answered my response.

                  “@Sevo: “You stupid piece of shit, there is no ‘having it two ways’ there.”
                  I notice you can’t be bothered to explain WHY I’m wrong. Blithe assertions prove nothing. Haven’t they taught you that yet in school?”
                  I notice you cannot respond to the simple statement that ‘there is no having it two ways therer’, you stupid lefty shit.

                  “@Sevo: “Stuff it, lefty twit.”
                  Temper, temper! Play nice or your mom will take away youi Internet connection. If you’re going to act like a spoilt seven-year-old you won’t get any respect.”
                  Stuff it up your ass, you stupid lefty shit.

                  1. @Sevo: “I notice, you stupid lefty shit, that you have not answered my response.

                    What response? You didn’t give any, Sevo. Niothing intelligent, at any rate. Unless, of course, you mean the insults you hurled. But then I saw no need to respond to them.

                    If you’re going to act like a troll, Sevo, then you can expect to be treated like one.

                    @Sevo: “Stuff it up your ass, you stupid lefty shit.

                    Hmm. You keep repeating variations on the same insults. Either my estimate of your mental age (seven) was over-generous, or you aren’t human at all. You’re a bot with a limited range of pre-scripted responses sent by your master (Hi, Vladimir! That you?) to plague the comment pages of reason.com.

        2. “If you yourself lost a loved one in such a crash, wouldn’t YOU be inclined to blame Trump (or Boeing) for not acting?”

          In the absence of evidence that the crashes all shared a common cause, I would hope not.

        3. The allegedly evil profit motive actually works against your argument: how is it profitable for a company to kill their customers? If there is an elevated risk for more crashes why would a company risk everything – including profit – to fly unsafe planes?

          1. You expect a stupid lefty shit to deal with logic? You will be disappointed.

  3. So – – – –
    maybe learn to code is not really an insult?

    1. It is if you say it to a programmer.

    2. At one point they boasted that there were over a million lines of code running their FADEC or something, as though that was a good thing. The immediate implication being that auditing a million lines of code and ensuring safety and bug-free operation is an enormous and error-prone undertaking. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

      1. “here were over a million lines of code running their FADEC”

        How many lines of code will it take to make a computer smart enough to make a smarter computer? To get the ball rolling on this singularity thing that all the self-proclaimed experts assure us is going to happen real soon.

      2. “…The immediate implication being that auditing a million lines of code and ensuring safety and bug-free operation is an enormous and error-prone undertaking. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence…”

        You’re dealing with a dynamic object with controls in probably hundreds of systems in a dynamic system in 4 dimensions.
        If you were clever enough to manage it in far fewer lines of code, I’ll bet you’d be a hero at Boeing.

  4. Question: If these are recalled, is the taxpayer on the hook because of the Import/export bank aka Boeing bank?

    1. Aircraft do not get recalled. They will be fixed at Boeings expense.

  5. It is important to note that there’s no universal consensus on whether the groundings are necessary. That’s because there isn’t yet clear-cut evidence that the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes were related.

    Over 12 Boeing major aircraft issues and crashes since Jan 2018. The 737 MAX crashes have not been resolved with a cause yet.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List of accidents and incidents involving commercial aircraft

    Furthermore, the airlines now depend on the FAA to investigate issues before making major decisions involving airplane defects.

    1. I’m not exactly a fan of Boeing, but several of these were engine failures, hijackings, or in the case of the Cubana de Aviaci?n flight a poorly maintained plan from the ’70s (surely they’ll do communism right going forward). There were the two MAX 8 flights (which I suspect are related but a similar situation to a low-g pushover in a Robinson helicopter) and several runway overruns, but I don’t know that one can place the blame squarely on Boeing as a manufacturer.

      Overall, it doesn’t appear more likely that groundings are necessary than that someone was told to Do Something and Something Is Being Done.

      1. 0x said what I came say and since this plane is apparently the most popular plane in the world it of course would have more accidents than others. to eleviate that we need more competition

        1. 12 issues with Boeing planes seems to be outside what Boeing’s normal good track record is.

          Something is going on but it could be purely random issues.

          In the Navy, we used to do a “safety stand down” when our safety record dropped inexplicably. This allowed a short period of time to find what we might be overlooking during normal operations.

          As with Trump’s increased border security, grounding 737 MAX planes is not some outrageous abuse of government power.

          I find ObamaCare a more egregious abuse by government, since that is not even constitutional.

          1. So in the government, you used to do the same type of thing the government is doing now, which shows how good of an idea it is.

            Also, since this isn’t as bad as Obamacare (presumably any government takeover of healthcare?) the efficacy of this move is further proven.

            Something Must Be Done is usually dumb no matter who is in power. Try not to be so blatantly partisan, and realize that it’s fine to be deferential when you don’t know anything about the topic at hand.

        2. “to eleviate that we need more competition”

          To alleviate what? Do you think that there can somehow never be a ‘most popular’? Should they all be equal?

  6. Trump will issue an “emergency order to ground all 737 Max 8 and the 737 Max 9, and planes associated with that line,”

    The Ninth Circuit immediately issued an injunction putting a stay on the emergency order.

    1. @Jerryskids: FYI, American courts, even the Ninth Circuit, do NOT issue injunctions unless someone files a case before them to do so. So who are you supposing would have filed for that injunction?

      1. Did you feel a breeze as that joke went over your head?

        1. Check up-thread. S54321 is terrified that FOR-PRFIT KKOPURASHUNS are trying to kill us all.

  7. We have the technology for airlines to receive telemetry from their commercial aircraft while in flight. We should no longer need to rely on finding flight data recorders or cockpit voice recorders in mangled wreckage which sometimes lies deep underwater. If I can know every real time detail of the Smollett or Huffman crises then I should know already how the turbine blades exploded and severed the hydraulic lines to the control surfaces or whatever.

  8. Apparently the larger engines were placed forward of the center of gravity because of a business decision not to use bigger landing gear.

    This made the jet unstable which was solved with software, MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System).

    Apparently nobody was told, it wasn’t in any training manuals.

    Looks like Boeing is pregnant.

    1. https://www.seattletimes.com/business
      /boeing-aerospace/u-s-pilots-flying-737-
      max-werent-told-about-new-automatic-
      systems-change-linked-to-lion-air-crash/

      1. Yes, there is quite a bit about the airplanes which is not passed on to the pilots.

      2. Delete the s and you can post the whole link.

    2. The only reason that’s relevant is because the computer needs to know the attitude, or angle of attack (AOA) to calculate elevator trim. If an AOA sensor is faulty the autopilot can effect an essentially infinite downward pitch. The solution is to turn off the autopilot and actually fly the plane, but it would appear that in these cases the pilots failed to do so.

      So it comes down to a technicality of whether this failure mode is a) documented and advised as part of emergency procedures, and b) presented in training.

      There’s a line between “airplane may be suffer adverse affects after direct missile strike” and “wings tend to fall off on their own”. Personally I feel like this leans more toward the former.

      1. “…The solution is to turn off the autopilot and actually fly the plane, but it would appear that in these cases the pilots failed to do so…”

        It’s from memory, so I’ll paraphrase rather than quote, but a pilot who regularly comments on aero-issues said the pilots were not briefed on the specific feature, but there were checklists for certain malfunctions, which malfunctions should be obvious (like the trim wheels doing a burnout).
        Yes, per Misek, Boeing upgraded the aircraft with larger engines and in order to get certified, were required to upgrade the software to provide stability in a potentionally unstable condition (shame on them, right Misek?). Yes, it seems to have cause the October crash, and (according to the same guy) training was immediately upgraded to look for the issue under specific conditions.
        Flying remains about as safe as houses, and this plane has millions of miles on it. Thanks, I’ll wait to see what the cause might have been.

        1. Turning off the malfunctioning autopilot that is making an unstable plane stable, only solves one of two critical failures.

          Why did Boeing feel it necessary to certify an unstable aircraft? It wasn’t altruism.

          1. “Turning off the malfunctioning autopilot that is making an unstable plane stable, only solves one of two critical failures.”
            Are you here to prove how stupid you are? If so, you’re doing a wonderful job, you stupid shit.
            No, at the time the AP is to be disabled, the system is causing instability. I’m sure that will be a mystery to you, given that you’re a fucking ignoramus. I’ll be happy to lecture you on it: I bill $750/hr, and in your case, let’s figure at least 20 hours.

            “Why did Boeing feel it necessary to certify an unstable aircraft? It wasn’t altruism.”
            For the same reason ALL builders certify aircraft which can become unstable under certain conditions. If you design one which can’t, well, you’re pretty ‘special’. Patent it, along with your perpetual-motion machine.
            BTW, make that 40 hours; you’re pretty fucking dumb.

            1. Dipshit,

              The autopilot system engages when the unstable plane makes certain maneuvers.

              During those maneuvers,, without the software, the plane would crash. That’s why the system in question exists.

              Turning it off, means the pilots need to try to fly an unstable plane.

              The placement of the engines make the plane unstable during maneuvers which would not make other planes unstable.

              There was nothing the pilots could do to save the plane once the software malfunctioned.

    3. “Apparently the larger engines were placed forward of the center of gravity because of a business decision not to use bigger landing gear.”

      While we’re here, lets call one of our resident lefty twits on this bit of innuendo.
      Yes, it was a ‘business decision’, in that most all a company does is a ‘business decision’. Did you have a point other than you have no idea what ‘business decisions’ are?

  9. But airlines apparently didn’t take out the 737 Max out of service, nor did Boeing

  10. Are pilots for third world airlines as qualified as pilots for U.S. carriers? Used to be (and maybe still is) that Americans were cautioned to stay off Aeroflot.

    1. Aeroflot used to have a bad safety record (I’m going back to the ’70s and ’80s), but crappy Russian-built planes may have had more impact than the pilots.

    2. All airlines that fly into Europe or the United States have pilots that are similarly qualified. Experience matters too and is varied. Ethiopian Airlines was known to have well trained pilots and quality maintenance. Start up budget airlines tend to have less experienced pilots. For regional carriers that don’t fly to Europe or the USA, well qualifications and experience vary as does the culture of pushing the pilots to make timetables rather than use discretion in safety matters.

      Alas, it appears that grounding the 787 max is not unwarranted and is consistent with a safety first culture.

      1. “Alas, it appears that grounding the 787 max is not unwarranted and is consistent with a safety first culture.”

        If the same applied to automobiles, Musk would be rattling a tin-cup at El Camino and South Matilda.

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  12. Look at the stock chart today. You see than drop at 3:00 pm and fhe buyback to get it back to opening.

  13. My solution : Let the MAX’s fly but disable the Autopilot and and add a third human pilot in the cockpit to ease the extra workload of flying manually.

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