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Nader's Message to Boeing: Ground the Planes Now

"Stop digging in your heels."

A Boeing 737 Max 8. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Update: President Donald Trump grounded the planes this afternoon.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader believes Boeing should ground its fleet of 737 Max 8 airplanes. 

The message comes as the world struggles to understand what happened to Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which crashed Sunday, March 10, killing 157. The accident came just four months after the crash of Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 in October—also a 737 Max 8. 

Nader's grand-niece, Samya Stumo, died in the crash. The Sheffield, Mass., native was an employee of education publisher ThinkWell and was ultimately headed to Uganda for work.

In an open letter to Boeing executives published Wednesday, Nader said that the airplane manufacturer was behaving as a company "used to having its way" and not in the interests of American lives. 

"Stop digging in your heels," Nader wrote. "Tell the airlines to stop digging in their heels."

In response to the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, most countries across the world grounded the planes. The European Union shut down flights by the plane, taking down a fleet that makes up two thirds of the total number of planes in use. The U.S. stands almost alone in its continued use of the 737 Max 8. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in a statement, said it saw no evidence the planes were unsafe.

"The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX," the agency said. "Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft."

The calls for the U.S. to ground the flights are getting louder, and not just from Nader. 

Action on the planes should be taken out of an "abundance of caution," said the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO. 

 If Boeing and the government don't take action, said actress Nicole Yvette-Brown, then just don't fly. 

Nader, in his concluding remarks, tried to appeal to the corporation's baser, profit-oriented instincts.

"Once an aircraft starts to carry a stigma in the minds of passengers, time is of the essence," said Nader. "You know all about branding's pluses and minuses."

"It is better to act now before being forced to act, whether by Congress, the FAA, a prosecution, or another aircraft disaster that could have been avoided."

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