By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee plans to hold a hearing on the fatal crashes of two Boeing (NYSE 🙂 Co 737 MAX 8 jets since October, as a growing number of lawmakers asked U.S. regulators USA
US Senators Mitt Romney and Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday called on the Federal Aviation Administration to follow several other countries and temporarily ground Boeing Co’s 737 MAX 8, days after an accident in Ethiopia killed everyone on board. one of the planes.
“As a precaution for the flying public, the (FAA) should ground the 737 MAX 8 until we investigate the causes of recent accidents and ensure the aircraft’s airworthiness,” Romney said in a tweet.
The FAA said Tuesday night that its ongoing review of the 737 MAX shows that “there are no systemic performance issues and it does not provide a basis for ordering grounding of the aircraft.”
Senator Roger Wicker, a Republican who chairs the Commerce Committee, said Tuesday he plans to hold a hearing, along with Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican who chairs an aviation and space subcommittee.
Cruz said it would be prudent to “temporarily ground the 737 Max planes” until the FAA “confirms the safety of these planes and their passengers.” Cruz added that he intends to “hold a hearing to investigate these accidents, determine their contributing factors and ensure that the United States aviation industry remains the safest in the world.”
The calls came as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and numerous countries, including Britain, China, Australia, Germany, France and Singapore, grounded the plane.
Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, said the FAA should “immediately land this plane in the United States until its safety can be guaranteed.”
Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, joined similar calls not only from Warren, but also from fellow Democratic senators Richard Blumenthal and Dianne Feinstein.
The FAA said foreign civil aviation authorities have not “provided us with data to justify action,” but stressed that if safety concerns are raised in their review, “they will take immediate and appropriate action.”
Regulators around the world and a growing number of airlines are grounding the 737 MAX 8 after two fatal accidents in five months. The previous accident happened in Indonesia in October and killed 189 people.
Sara Nelson, who heads the Association of Flight Attendants union, urged the FAA on Tuesday to temporarily grounded the 737 MAX fleet, as did Consumer Reports, an influential American magazine.
“It’s about the public’s confidence in the safety of air travel,” Nelson said.
Boeing in a statement on Tuesday did not directly address the senators’ comments, but said it has “full confidence in the safety of the MAX” and noted that the FAA has not ordered “any further action at this time.”
Boeing added that it understands that “regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are the most appropriate for their domestic markets.”
The FAA told international carriers on Monday there was no need to ground the plane, but would require a software update and training changes by April. Boeing confirmed Monday night that it will implement those changes in the coming weeks.
US President Donald Trump, who has been briefed on the Ethiopian Airlines crash according to administration officials, tweeted Tuesday that “the planes are getting too complex to fly. No pilots are needed anymore, but computer scientists from the MIT “.
He added: “Complexity creates danger. All of this for a great cost but very little profit. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flight professionals who are easily allowed and quickly take the control an airplane! “
Trump spoke with Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg on Tuesday after the tweets were issued and received assurances that the plane was safe, three people briefed on the call said. The call had been in progress since Monday night, a source said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News Tuesday that it was “very early in the process” of deciding whether to ground the 737 MAX 8. She added that the White House would be in “constant contact” with the FAA “to make decisions. at the appropriate time.”