There are growing calls for the U.S. government to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8 after two of the jets crashed within six months, killing all on board. Several dozen countries have banned the plane, but so far the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has only ordered the American jetliner manufacturer to upgrade the planes’ software. White House Correspondent Patsy Widakuswara has more.


As countries worldwide continue to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, aviation officials in the U.S. have been hesitant to follow suit.

The Federal Aviation Administration says there is “no basis to order the grounding of the aircraft.” That’s according to a statement Tuesday evening from Daniel Elwell, the acting FAA administrator.

“The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX,” the statement reads. “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.”

Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed on Sunday, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board. Just five months earlier, a 737 Max jet flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia killing all 189 people on the plane.

Tuesday, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency announced it was suspending all flight operations of the Boeing series of jets involved in the crashes. That follows similar moves by China, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia and others to either ground the planes or temporarily ban them from their airspace.

And on Capitol Hill there is a growing chorus of lawmakers from both parties calling for the FAA to do the same.

Speaking on NPR’s All Things Considered, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the FAA has a responsibility to put “safety ahead of airline profits.”

“Right now there’s more than ample reason for airline passengers to be greatly concerned. In fact, justifiably frightened about the safety of these airplanes and the ability of pilots to handle a malfunction,” Blumenthal said.

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