President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that airplanes are becoming "far too complex" following an Ethiopian Airlines flight over the weekend that crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 people — including eight Americans — on board.
"Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT," Trump wrote.
The president added in a second tweet: "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!"
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The plane that crashed was a Boeing 737 Max 8, the same model as an Indonesian Lion Air flight that crashed after takeoff in October, killing all 189 people on board.
A Boeing spokesman said the company’s CEO, Dennis Muilenburg, spoke with Trump following the president’s tweets Tuesday morning and “made it clear he is absolutely confident in the safety of the airplanes.”
The Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that U.S. airlines can still fly the model. Numerous countries, including those of the European Union, Australia, China, Singapore, Indonesia and Argentina, have grounded the Boeing 737 Max jets.
Trump has yet to offer personal condolences to the victims, though White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday offered "our prayers to the loved ones, friends and family of those killed in the tragic crash."
Also on Monday, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called on the FAA to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes
"The FAA must guarantee that all critical software updates have been delivered and pilots are well trained in their operation," Blumenthal said in a statement, adding that the federal agency and the airline industry "must act quickly and decisively to protect American travelers, pilots and flight attendants."
Air travel is statistically much safer today than it was 20 or 30 years ago. Data from the Aviation Safety Network showed that the number of airliner accidents per million flights has dropped considerably since the 1970s.