Recently, a Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane crashed en route to Kenya from Ethiopia killing everyone on board. It was the second crash of a 737 Max 8—a relatively new aircraft—in the last 6 months, which caused some alarm and prompted a handful of countries to ground the aircraft pending safety investigations.
While details remain fuzzy, the cause of the crash could be an autopilot system that was tweaked to compensate for a redesign of the plane. The tweak was made after Boeing altered the design ofthe plane, giving it a tendency to pitch upwards. Boeing has announced an autopilot software update for April and the National Transportation Safety Board is aiding the investigation into the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Of course, President Trump has his own theory about why the Boeing 737 Max 8 is unsafe—planes have become “too complex to fly.”
Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. 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. Split second decisions are....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2019
....needed, and the complexity creates danger. 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. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 12, 2019
But the “greater cost” for Boeing would have been in creating a new airplane from scratch. Instead the manufacturer modified an older design, leading to the pitching problem and autopilot patch to solve it.
Trump got mocked for his “new fangled flying contraptions!” tweet:
My dude, you cannot even functionally operate an umbrella. Sit this one out.— The Sassiest Semite (@LittleMissLizz) March 12, 2019
The president is arguing that airplane pilots are too smart now and we have to put a stop to it.— luke oneil (@lukeoneil47) March 12, 2019
The President brings the same thoughtfulness to aerospace engineering that he brings to vaccines, birth certificates, and trade policy. https://t.co/cQlfPYYj7k— Orin Kerr (@OrinKerr) March 12, 2019
I'm looking forward to my next flight, watching a guy in a red hat berate the gate agent about whether the plane he's about to get on is full of liberal computers— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) March 12, 2019
Look, he’s got a point pic.twitter.com/lbGD8PXEaO— who pixelates the boatmen? (@pixelatedboat) March 12, 2019
personally, i refuse to get on a plane unless i can confirm it is being flown by an absolute moron— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) March 12, 2019
It’s time to start making the whole plane out of the black box, folks! https://t.co/UKlGgZqCsA— matt tobey (@mtobey) March 12, 2019
Trump may feel he’s got skin in the game when it comes to plane safety, though. He tried to take credit for the lack of commercial airline deaths in 2017 last year.
Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news - it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
Meanwhile, in the real adult world, U.S. lawmakers are increasingly calling on the FAA to ground Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft operating in the United States until the safety of the plane can be guaranteed.