EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Hours before President Trump announced the U.S. would ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 planes, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed joined a chorus of lawmakers calling on federal regulators to the aircraft out of service following two deadly crashes involving the jets.
Sunday's Ethiopian Airlines disaster claimed 157 lives just months after a Lion Air plane crashed in Indonesia, killing 189 people.
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“In an abundance of caution for the safety of the aviation system and the traveling public, I believe these aircraft should be grounded until we can firmly identify the cause of the accident and take whatever additional safety precautions are necessary once investigations are concluded,” Reed told WPRI 12 in a statement Wednesday.
Reed serves on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that controls the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) budget.
U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mitt Romney of Utah are among the other lawmakers who have also voiced concerns about the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
Safety regulators abroad including in Canada, the European Union, China, Australia and the United Kingdom have already grounded 737 MAX 8 planes.
"I do think that when the rest of the world is saying we need to get to the bottom of this before we let this plane fly, that puts a lot of pressure on the FAA to undertake a very serious and very rapid investigation," Whitehouse told CNN's Erin Burnett on Tuesday night.
"Unfortunately what we see so often under the Trump administration is regulatory agencies that take their signals from the industry, and we want to make absolutely sure the FAA is not trying to keep these planes flying even though they're not safe just because Boeing and airlines want it that way," he said.
The FAA had said it was reviewing incidents but was allowing the planes to remain in service.
"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," the FAA said in a statement Wednesday night.
"In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action," the agency added.
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines operate dozens of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes in the United States. They say the aircraft are safe. But another carrier, Norwegian Air, has already canceled flights into and out of T.F. Green that would have used the planes.