Pilots repeatedly voiced safety concerns about the Boeing 737 Max 8 to federal authorities, with one captain calling the flight manual “inadequate and almost criminally insufficient” several months before Sunday’s Ethiopian Air crash that killed 157 people, an investigation by The Dallas Morning News found....The disclosures found by The News reference problems during Boeing 737 Max 8 flights with an autopilot system, and they all occurred while trying to gain altitude during takeoff — many mentioned the plane turning nose down suddenly. While records show these flights occurred during October and November, the information about which airlines the pilots were flying for is redacted from the database.Records show that a captain who flies the Max 8 complained in November that it was “unconscionable” that the company and federal authorities allowed pilots to fly the planes without adequate training or fully disclosing information about how its systems were different from previous 737 models.
Early Tuesday, Dennis A. Muilenburg, the chief executive of Boeing, spoke to President Trump on the phone and made the case that the 737 Max planes should not be grounded in the United States, according to two people briefed on the conversation....Mr. Trump jumped into the fray on Tuesday morning, posting Twitter messages deploring what he described as the technological complexities of modern commercial aircraft. “Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT,” Mr. Trump said. Much of what he asserted, however, was misleading or lacked context, aviation experts said.The Boeing chief, Mr. Muilenburg, in his conversation with the president reiterated that the plane was safe, outlining the company’s position. He also updated Mr. Trump on the status of the 737 Max models. The call came after the Mr. Trump’s tweets, but was in the works the night before, according to one of the people.
When China on Monday became the first country to order all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes grounded in the aftermath of an Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday, its aviation regulator sent an unmistakable signal: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is no longer the only authority in civil aviation worldwide.After China ordered a dozen carriers to ground their 96 planes — about a quarter of all 737 Max aircraft in operation globally — authorities in Ethiopia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Morocco and Singapore quickly followed suit, along with carriers in Latin America and South Korea.Despite the FAA issuing a statement backing the Boeing jet’s airworthiness, the European Union grounded the model Tuesday, as did at least 10 other countries, with authorities saying the aircraft would not be allowed to fly to or from their countries pending the investigation.