Donald Trump finally weighed in on the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash which killed all 157 passengers and crewmembers and raised serious questions about the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, which has now been involved in two fatal incidents within the past five months.
The president’s solution? Get rid of computers.
Trump on Boeing MAX 8 Crash: I Don’t Want Einstein Flying My Plane
Donald Trump made this proposal during his regularly-scheduled morning tweetstorm, arguing that “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly” and that you need “computer scientists from MIT” to fly them rather than pilots.
“[O]lder and simpler is far better,” Trump opined, adding that he doesn’t want “Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!”
Read the president’s full tweets here:
Governments Ground Boeing MAX 8 Flights, But Trump Administration Lets Them Fly
Airlines across the world have begun to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 flights, with China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Mexico, and the UK outright prohibiting MAX 8 planes from operating within their airspace.
Notably, though, the US Federal Aviation Administration has maintained that Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes are still airworthy, allowing airlines to continue flying them in the US. Contrary to Trump’s suggestion that airplane designers should get rid of automation, the FAA said that it would mandate upgrades to the MAX 8’s computer software.
“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018,” the FAA said in a notice. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.”
Airline Accidents Decline as Automation Improves
Responding to President Trump, critics were quick to point out that airline travel is now safer than it has ever been, largely due to the very advances in automation of which he is so skeptical.
In fact, according to the Aviation Safety Network, 2017 was the safest year ever for air travel, with just 44 fatalities in an estimated 36.8 million flights.
“Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organisations such as ICAO, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry,” commented ASN President Harro Ranter.
Fatalities jumped to above 500 in 2018, in large part due to the Lion Air crash that also involved a Boeing 737 MAX 8, but the fatality rate remained remarkably low at approximately one fatal accident for every 3 million flights.
“If the accident rate had remained the same as 10 years ago, there would have been 39 fatal accidents last year,” Ranter said. “This shows the enormous progress in terms of safety in the past two decades.”