FAA doesn’t ground Boeing 737 Max 8 jets despite deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash

Local News

Before Sunday’s deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet in Ethiopia, it the accounted for five to 10 percent of all 737 jets that were flying in the air.  

After the second deadly crash involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet — several countries and airlines have decided to ground those planes.  However, the planes are still in service in the United States and Canada.

The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said the pilot in Sunday’s crash appeared to have control problems over the jet before it crashed.  Now the FAA has ordered a software update to give pilots more control over the jet by April, but right now those 737s are still allowed to fly.

The companies still using the Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in the United States are Southwest Airlines with 34,  and American Airlines with 24.  United Airlines is continuing to operate the longer 737 Max 9 jets.

Flight attendants and ground crews with American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have urged the companies to take the planes out of service.  But both companies said Tuesday that they have confidence in the airplanes and their crews. 

So how much would it cost airlines like Southwest and American to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 jets?

The price tag to take all of the planes out of service could be between $1 billion and $5 billion, according to Wall Street estimates.

But for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, it’s worth it to keep people safe.   

“These planes are accidents waiting to happen,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut.

“It makes sense to ground an aircraft that has been involved in two very tragic accidents in only six months,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

Boeing says no grounding is needed.  The company released a statement saying in part: “We have full confidence in the safety of the Max and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”

Lawmakers say passengers who don’t want to fly on a Max should be able to switch flights free of charge, but so far, only Southwest Airlines says it would waive fees for passengers looking to change flights from a Max. 

American Airlines has not lifted its ticket change fee which can cost $200 or more.  

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