Ralph Nader Calls For Recall Of Boeing 737 Max Jets After His Grandniece Was Killed
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
We own it - those words today from Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing, part of Boeing's response to the preliminary report on the Ethiopian Airlines crash last month. Muilenburg acknowledged that in both the Ethiopian crash and the Lion Air crash last fall, an automated flight control system known as MCAS was erroneously activated. He pledged that a software update, along with additional training, would prevent such an accident from ever happening again.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Today, the family of one of the Americans who died on the Ethiopian flight filed a lawsuit against Boeing and took steps to file another suit against the FAA. Samya Stumo was 24 and was traveling in Africa for a job in global health. She was the grandniece of consumer advocate Ralph Nader. He spoke to us today.
RALPH NADER: Audie, it's a tragedy beyond words because Samya Stumo was only 24. And she had leadership and compassion and intellectual rigor. So it's a loss to her family and relatives. But it's a loss all the people working in global health and all the people she would have helped save over the next 50 years. So we have to make airline travel much safer.
CORNISH: The lawsuit filed today accuses Boeing of rushing the 737 Max 8 plane to market. Your niece, Nadia Milleron, Samya's mother, spoke at the press conference today. Here's what she said.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
NADIA MILLERON: As somebody who's lost a dearest person in my life, you know, I want her death not to be in vain. I don't want anybody else to die.
CORNISH: What, to your mind, is going to take for your family to feel like enough is being done to prevent another crash?
NADER: Well, the 737 Max 8 was defectively designed. It put in larger engines which destabilized the aerodynamics of the plane. And that's why Boeing went to such lengths with all the different iterations of the complex software. It's because in rushing to compete with the Airbus 320neo, they put on larger engines for a little more fuel efficiency. And they upset the center of gravity and made the plane prone to stall, rather than stall-proof.
CORNISH: Boeing has maintained that the planes aren't defective, that they are fundamentally safe with the proper software. What's your response to how they've been talking about this?
NADER: You shouldn't have to have proper software if the design is stable like it was for the 737 600, 700 and 800 before they put the Max on. The aerodynamic design should not be such that it puts unfair and preventable burden on pilots in a whole host of configurations.
That's why I'm calling for a recall, not just continued grounding, a recall like the auto companies of the 737 Max 8. They've got to go back to the drawing board, a clean sheet design of a new plane. And in the meantime, they can continue selling their Boeing 737 800s without those larger destabilizing engines.
CORNISH: It sounds like what you're saying is Boeing's announcement that it is rolling out a software update, that it is making improvements is not going to be enough going forward.
NADER: It can diminish the likelihood, but it can't prevent it to the extent that Boeing's past planes have prevented it. You know, this is a harbinger. You'll be covering a lot of this in medical technology, autonomous weapons, self-driving cars. It's the arrogance of the algorithms, not augmenting human intelligence but overriding it and replacing it. The significance of this Boeing disaster is that it can teach us some very important lessons about maintaining human intelligence and not ceding it to autonomous systems that have no moral base and no intuition.
CORNISH: Well, Ralph Nader, thank you so much for speaking with us again. I'm so sorry for your loss.
NADER: Thank you very much, Audie.
CORNISH: Ralph Nader, consumer advocate and granduncle of Samya Stumo. Stumo died last month in Ethiopia.
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