JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An emergency order from President Donald Trump grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft in the United States, just days after a Max 8 model crashed in Ethiopia, killing 157 people, including 19 United Nations staff members.
On Wednesday, the FAA pointed out similarities between the deadly crash in Ethiopia and the Lion Air deadly crash in Indonesia, both involved Boeing 737 Max models.
On Tuesday, President Trump tweeted that greater reliance on computer technology over pilots may be to blame, but Jacksonville pilot and aviation law and crash expert Randy Reep believes automation is not to blame.
"They’re concerning because they’re close in time, but it may be incredibly random too," said Reep. "So there’s nothing definitively problematic."
He’s familiar with flying 737 aircraft.
"That’s the most prolific, the most produced airplane, is the 737 and its variance, these just happen to be the two newest, and it has control augmentation, that’s what people are speculating is the concern."
He argues that there isn’t enough data yet to come to any conclusions.
"Even in a hand flown environment, it is something that supports the control inputs and the fear is that it is doing things that are not commanded."
In fact, he says, it’s that technology that keeps us safe and it’s human error that contributes to most aviation accidents.
"Automation, in the history of aviation, dramatically has increased safety."
Reep doesn’t expect impacts in Jacksonville, but major hubs, like Miami, are seeing a rush to rebook passengers on different aircraft.
In fact, any delays locally may be a result of severe weather across the Midwest and West according to other pilots.
As for the FAA investigation into the plane crash, Reep says it could take several months to a year.