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Trump Declares War on [Checks Notes] Planes

The president is finally taking a stand against those egghead nerds ruining the aviation industry

President Donald Trump gestures while watching a second monitor in front of him of the live broadcast of the U.S. Senate confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, while aboard Air Force OneSupreme Court Kavanaugh Trump, Topeka, USA - 06 Oct 2018

President Donald Trump gestures while aboard Air Force One

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/REX/

President Trump has some bold thoughts on airplane technology.

“Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly,” the president tweeted Tuesday morning. “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 … 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!”

So, what’s going on here?

Trump is responding to news that several nations, most recently the United Kingdom, have banned the Boeing 737 Max 8 in the wake of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302’s crash on Sunday, which killed all 157 people on board. In October, another 737 Max 8, Lion Air Flight 610, crashed in Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers. Though the 737 is one of Boeing’s most popular planes, the Max 8 has a bigger engine that changes how the aircraft handles, according to Air Current. When being flown manually, the nose of the plane can tend to tilt upward, which can cause it to stall, so the Max 8 features an automated system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, to “trim the nose stabilizer down.” Lion Air Flight 610 reportedly crashed in October because a faulty MCAS caused the nose of the plane to point downward, and the pilots were unable to override the system. It’s still unknown what exactly caused the crash of Ethiopia Airlines Flight 302 on Sunday.

Not everyone is happy that the plane has yet to be grounded in the United States. “Until the cause of the crash is known and it’s clear that similar risks aren’t present in the domestic fleet, I believe all Boeing 737 Max 8 series aircraft operating in the United States should be temporarily grounded,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution for the flying public, the @FAANews should ground the 737 MAX 8 until we investigate the causes of recent crashes and ensure the plane’s airworthiness,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) added on Twitter.

The Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday that it is still investigating what caused Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 to crash.

It’s unclear exactly why the FAA is still investigating while regulators in Europe, China, Australia and elsewhere have already grounded the Max 8. As the New Yorker‘s Nathan Heller pointed out on Twitter, the FAA has gone over a year without a permanent director in place. It was reported in 2018 that Trump wanted his personal campaign pilot, John Dunkin, to lead the administration. “My pilot, he’s a smart guy and knows what’s going on,” Trump told aviation executives in 2017 while advocating for the privatization of air traffic controls systems. “[He] said the government is using the wrong equipment and instituting a massive multibillion-dollar project, but they’re using the wrong type of equipment.”

On Tuesday, Trump approached the FAA’s questionable progress investigating the Max 8 from a different angle than the lawmakers who have called for it to be grounded in the United States. Instead of pressuring the FAA to ban the plane from flying until it can deemed safe, Trump on Tuesday questioned the general idea of aviation technology advancing. Despite his tweets, Trump hasn’t always been anti-tech when it comes to aviation. As is the case with most of the causes the president decides to take up and drop, it’s a matter of political convenience.

Though some may question what kind of information Trump is working with as he rails against aviation technology, it would do Americans good to remember that the president knows “tech better than anyone.”

When asked for comment regarding the president’s tweet that he doesn’t “want Albert Einstein to be my pilot,” the FAA directed Rolling Stone to their statement from Monday.

This post has been updated.

In This Article: Donald Trump

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