Boeing Reportedly Asked the President Not to Ground the 737 MAX

The New York Times is reporting that Boeing’s CEO spoke to President Trump today and asked him not to ground the 737 MAX.

Early Tuesday, Dennis A. Muilenburg, the chief executive of Boeing, spoke to President Trump on the phone and made the case that the 737 Max planes should not be grounded in the United States, according to two people briefed on the conversation.

Notably this conversation came after Monday’s decision by the FAA not to ground the aircraft based on currently available evidence, and a similar decision by Canadian authorities. The call was also after the President tweeted about the matter.

Meanwhile China’s Civil Aviation Administration Deputy Director offered pilot confidence and experience as a reason why it makes sense to ground the aircraft in Asia even though similar measures aren’t being taken in North America.

The biggest worry involves possibly inaccurate signals from key flight instruments, Mr. Li said on Monday. Many pilots with less experience depend heavily on automatic systems to help them fly planes, and such systems in turn need reliable data.

“We are facing uncertainties about whether pilots have the courage or the capability to fly” if an aircraft has difficulties, Mr. Li said.

“When a pilot is operating manually, if he receives inaccurate signals, which has happened multiple times, it will bring trouble,” Mr. Li said. “As a government supervision department, we should make sure all problem are solved before we allow aircraft to be used.”

The call from Boeing appears awkward, but perhaps unnecessary, and notably pilots unions in the US have yet to call for the aircraft’s grounding.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I’m actually more troubled by this statement “Many pilots with less experience depend heavily on automatic systems to help them fly planes”

    I would rather be on a Max 7 flown by experienced pilots who actually have the flying skills than those inexperienced pilots who has to heavily rely on automatic systems.

  2. @tjp74. Good catch. I did not even decipher that at first. I agree, that is a very concerning statement in many levels.

  3. I doubt this story, the Times has a history of errors and making things up. I doubt the plane is unsafe, I do believe some additional training and in-experience pilot could be a huge safety issue. Loin Air has a history of safety issues and crashes, we will see airbus’ falling from the sky once they cancel their boeing order. A 28 yo pilot with 8000 hours of flying what?

    Sad for the losses but in the end, I think inexperience if a bigger problem than flight software. I bet boeing is just going to issue warnings and then disconnect itself automatically in the future.

  4. Boeing should know that our fearless leader will do whatever he thinks is best for our fearless leader. You can count on that.

    What I’d like to know is what is Boeing doing, if anything, to ensure regulators and the public that the 737 Max is safe because a hell of a lot of us think it isn’t.

  5. Boeing should be grounding the planes themselves. Calling the president to beg for favors just makes Boeing look to be in the wrong and them asking for this kind of help will do nothing to inspire future plane sales. Just a terrible call (no pun intended) overall.

  6. It wouldn’t surprise me if there was a call. Trump would want to hear directly from Boeing about the issue. Anyone who does not think Trump is the devil would think that was a good idea.

    If there is a problem with the Max, in the long run, it would be better for Boeing to ground now and then fix it befors it takes down the company. Another crash would be devastating.

  7. Found this:
    The article maintains that (1) lack of training in how to override a new MCAS feature to save training cost so 7M planes are cost competitive with Airbus; (2) current MCAS is subject to single point of failures in angle of attack sensor; April software is to address this.
    “the exact MCAS response would be new for pilots without training for it…(omitted for brevity) the pilots tried more than 2 dozens times to…(omitted) However they never followed the emergency procedure from their checklist to turn off the two stabilizer trim cutout switches, which would have disabled MCAS.”

  8. For sure fake news.

    Oh by the way, since cohen, manafort, flynn, stone are all “unavailable”, Boeing can leave the “envelope” for the “president” with Ivanka…but quickly before she, hubby, and jr are also “unavailable”.

  9. @Sun Viking 82 all but says the current disaster is all fake news, and appears happy to sweep it under the carpet. This particular model should definitely be grounded until the software issues are resolved and seen to be resolved.
    While Sun Viking is more than happy to subject the American flying public to business as usual you can bet that he personally, with friends & family, will avoid this aircraft like the plague.
    Such hypocricy from his (obvious) side of politics is sickening.

  10. Lol I thought the call would be an offer to fly the President for free on a 737-8 MAX to persuade the public the plane is indeed safe to fly.

  11. From Boeing’s perspective, there certainly exists risk; and that would only be addressed after the April software update. It however sees that the risk of financial loss and reputation from grounding 7M is greater that that of any possible mishappening that may happen before the software update. The chance of a similar accident should be minimal through March as by now North America-based 7M pilots should be briefed on this issue and most 7Ms have been grounded outside of the US.

  12. With regard to the fearless leader comment, Trump will do what is best for our country. As a retired pilot I am more convinced that this is a training and experience problem. The crash the other day included a “pilot” who had 200 hours and another with hours but is only 29. I suspect neither would fly in developed nations with strict qualification standards. The only good thing is these two will not jeopardize any other life’s.

  13. Irresponsible not to ground them after two recent unexplained accidents. This is how it was handled in the past, with planes put back into service after all issues resolved. One could argue that statistically the risks of a crash are slim. But, would anyone here put their children on one of these planes until the issues were figured out and amended? That has not happened yet.

  14. This thing has been in service for more than a year. Two crashes now. Boeing still don’t have a simulator for pilot training with this new system.

  15. @Bomber7090 – you must be from Russia, as trump is sure consistently doing what is best for Putin.

    @Joey – Good idea, unfortunately his bone spurs would prevent him from accepting…But if he were on the plane he would sure be able to save the day (just like any school shooting if he were in the building).

  16. Bomber7090: “The crash the other day included a “pilot” who had 200 hours and another with hours but is only 29. I suspect neither would fly in developed nations with strict qualification standards.” I’m a retired 28 year USAF aviator. I can’t speak for the Ethiopian Captain in question specifically, HOWEVER generally speaking these days someone with 8K hours would more than likely be gobbled up in a blink of the eye by major US carriers. For that matter, it’s been widely reported that recently Delta had new-hire First Officer pilots with only 6 months with the company – i.e. still on probation – that successfully bid for CAPTAIN upgrade (they were for despised Reserve MD88 lines in NYC – LGA/JFK/EWR), keep in mind that Delta only requires their applicants to have a total of 1500 hours of total documented flight time. With the well-documented current pilot shortage applicants that the US majors wouldn’t have touched with a ten foot pole only a few years ago are now being hired.

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