The decision to suspend flights of Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 Max aircraft by the European Union could have been – and should have been – taken sooner than it was.
After all, the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday, which killed 157 people, was the second involving this model of plane in less than five months.
It should be stressed that the decision taken by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency today was a “precautionary” one and it is not known whether there is something wrong with the aircraft or whether the crashes were simply coincidence.
The US Federal Aviation Administration was investigating but still allowing the planes to fly. The New York Times noted the US regulator was “typically hesitant to ground an entire fleet without concrete findings of an inherent design or manufacturing problem”.
This difference of approach – the EU’s fondness for the “precautionary principle”, the US reliance on hard evidence – extends to other areas, such as GM crops.
Both are valid, there are arguments for both approaches. But which makes you feel safer?