Trump on Boeing crash: 'Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly'

Dylan Stableford
Senior Editor

President Trump on Tuesday offered his thoughts on the safety of air travel after the deadly weekend crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 led several countries to ground that model, which was also involved in a crash under similar circumstances in October.

“Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly,” Trump tweeted. “Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better.”

Trump did not explain the source of his expertise on airplane safety, or say what other products he believes have become too complex to use.

The Ethiopian Airlines plane went down in clear weather shortly after takeoff Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. In October, a Lion Air jet of the same model crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 189 people. The cause of that crash is still under investigation, but air safety experts told the New York Times that the computer-assisted flight systems might have been a contributing factor.

Yahoo News photo Illustration; photos: AP, Twitter

Aviation experts warned against drawing too many comparisons between the two crashes until more is known.

“Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger,” the president continued. “All of this for great cost yet very little gain.

“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot,” Trump added. “I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!”

Following Sunday’s crash, more than a dozen countries — including Ethiopia, China, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore — grounded the 737 MAX 8 as a precaution. The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates U.S. air travel, has not taken this step.

Workers clear debris from the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Monday. (Photo: Mulugeta Ayene/AP)

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Chicago-based Boeing, which did not issue any new recommendations about the aircraft, said there was no reason to pull it from the skies.

The 737 MAX 8, the latest version of the 50-year-old 737 series, entered commercial service in 2017. The 737 in its various versions is the world’s best-selling passenger jet.

The president owned an airline, flying from New York City to Boston and Washington, D.C., for three years after he purchased the Eastern Air Lines shuttle in 1989 and renamed it the Trump Shuttle. It never turned a profit and he sold it off in 1992.

Trump also boasted about the safety of air travel during the first year of his presidency.

“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation,” Trump tweeted in January 2018. “Good news — it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!”

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