Even as several countries have grounded the Boeing 737 Max aircraft over safety reasons, the United States has refused to do so saying that there was "no basis" to suspend the flights. Almost 40 countries have grounded the aircraft and banned it from their airspace after a 737 Max plane, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed on the way to Nairobi on March 10 killing 157 people on board.
The US said that there were no performance issues with the plane and that the nation had not received any specific data to prove that the plane wasn't safe.
"The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots if Boeing 737 Max. Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action," the Federal Aviation Administration's acting administrator Daniel Elwell said in a statement.
"In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action."
However, the FAA's decision has been met with quite some criticism and Ted Cruz, a Republican senator who chairs a subcommittee on aviation and space, said that the aircraft should be in fact grounded until all the checks are carried out and safety of the passengers is confirmed.
"I believe it would be prudent for the US likewise to temporarily ground 737 Max aircraft until the FAA confirms the safety of these aircraft and their passengers," BBC quoted Cruz as saying.
Democratic senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal have also reportedly written to the FAA suggesting that the Boeing 737 Max be grounded "until the agency can conclusively determine that the aircraft can be operated safely." Elizabeth Warren, Democrat presidential hopeful, also said that the US, like other nations, must "get these planes out of the sky immediately."
Meanwhile, aviation officials too believe that the Boeing 737 Max should be grounded until all checks are complete and the aircraft is deemed fit for flying. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union has also said that FAA must "temporarily ground the 737 MAX fleet in the US out of an abundance of caution," and Allied Pilots Association has also told its members that no pilot will be forced to fly the aircraft.
"It is important for you to know that if you feel it is unsafe to work the 737 Max, you will not be forced to fly it," the BBC quoted the association as saying.
Here are the US airlines that operate the 737 Max
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines