Politics

Trump says planes are becoming 'far too complex to fly' after crash of Boeing jet in Ethiopia

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump says planes are becoming "far too complex to fly" in response to growing international outcry over the crash of a Boeing 737 MAX jet in Ethiopia that killed all 157 people on board.
  • "Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT," Trump tweets. "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."
President Donald Trump speaks at the debut of the Boeing South Carolina Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner in North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S., February 17, 2017.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

In the wake of the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet crash that killed 157 people in Ethiopia, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that airplanes are becoming "far too complex to fly."

"Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT," Trump wrote in a morning tweet. "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."

The FAA said Monday it did not see a reason to ground Boeing 737 Max planes, though regulators around the world have stated to ground the planes.

The crash near Addis Ababa on Sunday marked the second time the Boeing plane has sustained a fatal crash in five months.

Boeing has said it is too early to tell the cause of the Sunday crash, though investigators are looking into whether the plane's automatic controls were responsible for the crash of the 737 Max in October that killed 189 people after the plane dove into the Java Sea in Indonesia. Both crashes occurred shortly after takeoff.

"I don't know about you, but I don't want Albert Einstein to be my pilot," Trump wrote in a second post on Twitter. "I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!"

Regulators in China, Mexico, Indonesia, Australia and the United Kingdom have all grounded the aircraft. On Tuesday, a regulator in Vietnam said it would not license Boeing 737 Max aircraft in the country, according to Xinhua, a Chinese news agency. Companies in Vietnam had placed orders with Boeing to purchase the aircraft last month during Trump's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi.

Boeing shares have fallen steeply as questions have mounted about the company's popular new jetliner. The company's shares were down 6 percent in morning trade on Tuesday.

Boeing said Monday a software update was in the works and would be ready by April.

A spokesperson for the company told NBC News that CEO Dennis Muilenburg spoke with Trump shortly after he posted the tweets. Muilenburg "made it clear he is absolutely confident in the safety of the airplanes," the spokesperson said. 

Ethiopian Federal policemen stand at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 11, 2019.
Tiksa Negeri | Reuters