27 May 2019

U.S. will not suspend Boeing 737 MAX planes after Ethiopia crash

KONFRONTASI- The U.S. aviation regulator said on Tuesday it would not ground Boeing Co 737 MAX planes after a crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people, bucking a trend of countries around the world that have suspended the aircraft’s operations.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s acting administrator, Dan Elwell, said a review by the body “shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft.”

The European Union’s aviation safety regulator on Tuesday suspended all flights in the bloc by the 737 MAX and a U.S. senator who chairs a panel overseeing aviation suggested the United States take similar action following Sunday’s fatal crash, the second since October involving that type of plane.

But Elwell said no foreign civil aviation authorities had provided data that would warrant action. If any safety issues are identified during an ongoing urgent review of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, the FAA will “take immediate and appropriate action,” he said.

Britain, Germany and France joined a wave of suspensions of the aircraft following the crash, followed by a similar decision by India, piling pressure on the United States to follow suit.

Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker, which has seen billions of dollars wiped off its market value since the crash, said it understood the countries’ actions but retained “full confidence” in the 737 MAX and had safety as its priority.

The three U.S. airlines using the 737 MAX - Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines - stood by the aircraft, although many potential passengers took to social media to express concerns, asking if they could change flights or cancel.

United Airlines’ union pilots said that they had found no mechanical deficiencies in the plane in more than 23,000 flying hours.

The cause of Sunday’s crash, which followed another disaster with a 737 MAX five months ago in Indonesia that killed 189 people, remains unknown. On Monday, the FAA released details of a series of design changes and training requirements mandated from Boeing on the MAX fleet after the Indonesia crash.

There is no evidence yet whether the two crashes are linked. Plane experts say it is too early to speculate on the reason for the latest crash. Most are caused by a unique chain of human and technical factors.

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