Boeing faces claims after 737 MAX groundings

Pilots didn’t trust the Boeing Max 8 and now flyers are rejecting them

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Wednesday brushed aside concerns about the safety of the Boeing 737 Max 8, telling a Senate committee that consumers are free to change their flights if they are anxious about flying aboard the aircraft.

Southwest Airlines and American Airlines both operate fleets of the affected planes, some of which fly in and out of Tampa International. On Sunday, 157 people died when Ethiopian Airlines flight JT610 crashed minutes after takeoff. In October a year ago 189 people died when Lion Air's flight ET302 crashed off the coast of Indonesia.

After the Boeing 737 Max's deadly crash on Sunday-its second within six months-the European Union and several other countries grounded the model.

The three U.S. airlines using the 737 MAX - Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines - stood by the aircraft.

"We know what happened with the Lion Air flight, we wanted to see whether the Ethiopian flight resembled it", he said.

"Southwest Airlines is immediately complying with today's FAA requirement for all US airlines to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8", Southwest said in a statement.

"The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern", said Trump, announcing the emergency order from the White House.

Regulators across the world shut operation of the 737 down, sending the company's stock price falling.

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Asrat Begashaw, a spokesman for Ethiopia Airlines, told Reuters the pilot had reported flight control problems - as opposed to external factors such as birds - and had requested to turn back to Addis Ababa.

Given problems of identification of charred remains, it will take days to start returning them to families, probably weeks for some which will require dental or DNA testing.

Shortly after, and possibly because, details of that telephone conversation surfaced, and with Canada bringing down the ban hammer, the FAA was allowed to ground 737 Maxes. They should notify the passengers before.

Boeing has confirmed that, for the past few months, it has been developing a "flight control software enhancement" for the aircraft, but says it is confident they are safe to fly.

On Wednesday afternoon, Canada's transportation minister grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, leaving the United States and its carriers as the last major users of the aircraft. Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Richard Blumenthal called for flights to be stopped, as have Republican Senators Mitt Romney and Ted Cruz. "But we hope and expect that our MAXes will be airborne soon", Norwegian Air's founder and Chief Executive Bjoern Kjos said in a video recording released on social media.

More than a dozen airlines as well as the governments of China, Indonesia, Australia, and Singapore have grounded the aircraft.

"There must be a rigorous investigation into why the aircraft, which has critical safety systems that did not exist on prior models, was certified without requiring additional pilot training", he said.
But October's Lion Air crash in Indonesia sparked a debate on automation, particularly over a software system created to push the plane down to stop a stall during flight.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a review had showed "no systemic performance issues" and that there was no basis for grounding the aircraft.

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