FAA: No basis to ground planes

There are still no answers for families of the 157 souls killed in the explosive crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight #302 Sunday. Their heartbreak and growing uncertainty about the safety of Boeing's 737 Max 8 jets has prompted swift action around the world, as more countries and airlines moved to ground the plane.  

Last October, Lion Air had a similar crash when its 737 Max 8 jet crashed into the sea shortly after takeoff from Indonesia killing 189 people on board.

Late Tuesday night, the United Arab Emirates, a key international travel hub, announced it will bar the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 from its airspace following the crash of a similar jetliner in Ethiopia.

Earlier in the day, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency announced it is "suspending all flight operations of all Boeing Model 737 8 MAX AND 737 9 MAX aeroplanes in Europe." 

That means much of Europe now join dozens of others including China, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Fiji, Australia in grounding the jets.

Worldwide there are more than 350 of Boeing's 737 Max 8 jets that have been delivered to airlines. Now about one third are grounded. 

The U.S., Canada, and Japan are the few remaining countries that have not grounded the planes.

Fifty-eight MAX series planes are registered to fly in the U.S. The jets are used by Southwest, American and United Airlines.

The Association of Flight Attendants said Tuesday they quote, "will not be forced to fly if they feel unsafe."

The union for Air Canada flight attendants says the company is allowing flight attendants who don't want to fly on Boeing 737 Max airplanes to be reassigned and the union says they want that option to continue. 

U.S. lawmakers from both parties called for the FAA to take precautions.

"Do the right thing. Protect their passengers, and ground these planes until the F-A-A has a chance to review their safety," said Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal.

"I think it makes sense to, uh, to ground the aircraft until we have better information," said Republican Utah Senator Mitt Romney.

The FAA, however, stood firm and the acting director Daniel Elwell said Tuesday "Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft."

President Trump spoke with Boeing's CEO Dennis A. Muilenburg who said the aircraft was safe.

Boeing has a lot at stake. President Trump in February oversaw an order from Vietnam for 100 Boeing 737 Max planes.

Being has more than 4,600 unfilled orders for the new 737 jets, worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

An automated anti-stall system is suspected to have contributed to the Indonesia crash.

Witnesses say the Ethiopian Airlines jet was also out of control shortly after takeoff.

"Before falling down, the plane rotated two times in the air, and it had some smoke coming from the back, then it hit the ground and exploded," said one witness, Tamrat Abera.

At SFO and other Oakland, some passengers were worried about flying on the aircraft.

"I think either they fix it or they stop it. Why should people go in and feel worried? " said Suzanne Elzeiny, an Air Canada traveler.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao rode a 737 Max 8 Tuesday from Austin back to Washington D.C.

She said her department will not hesitate to ground the planes if there is evidence they are unsafe.