Boeing CEO Allegedly Pleaded With Trump Not To Ground 737 Max 8 Jets

Following the second deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max airliner in just over four months on Sunday, countries around the world — including Australia, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Argentina, Mexico, the United Kingdom, European Union, and India — have grounded the plane until a full investigation can determine whether the two crashes were the result of a flaw in the plane itself. But in the United States, as The Associated Press reports, the federal Aviation Administration has so far refused to order U.S. air carriers to keep their 737 Max planes out of the sky.

On Sunday, an Ethiopia Airlines Boeing 2737 Max crashed on takeoff, NBC News reported, killing all 157 people on board. The crash occurred just four months and 10 days after a Boeing 737 Max operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air also crashed shortly after takeoff, killing the 189 people on the plane. The two crashes are the 66th and 36th deadliest air disasters in history, according to the database Plane Crash Info.

Air passengers in the United States have been taking to social media to express their anxieties about the U.S. refusal to ground the planes, according to an NBC News report, and congressional reps are now asking why the FAA has not ordered the planes grounded.

Boeing 737 Max 8 plane flies.
A Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft preparing to land in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. on March 11.

Peter DeFazio, the Oregon Democrat who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said on Tuesday that he is “concerned that international aviation regulators are providing more certainty to the flying public than the FAA,” according to the AP report.

But a New York Times report published on Tuesday may have provided some insight into the U.S government’s reluctance to order the Boeing planes to temporarily stop flying. According to The Times, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg (pictured at the top of this page) phoned Donald Trump early on Tuesday, to personally plead with him not to ground the 737 Max.

Muilenburg has been cultivating a personal relationship with Trump since shortly after the 2016 presidential election, The Times reported. Following a visit by the CEO to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, Boeing donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration, according to The Times.

The Trump inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $106.7 million, more than double the previous record amount raised by Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration, according to Vox. Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York are currently investigating the 2017 Trump inaugural committee, as questions continue to swirl about how the committee raised that whopping sum of cash — and how it was spent.

Boeing also gave $1 million to Obama’s 2013 inaugural committee, according to The Times.

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