Southwest: ‘Confident’ in Boeing jet following Ethiopian Air crash

Among the U.S. airlines that fly the Boeing 737 Max 8 — the type of airplane in an Ethiopian Airlines crash over the weekend — is Southwest Airlines, the second-largest carrier in Atlanta.

After the Ethiopian Airlines crash Sunday shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board, aviation authorities in China, Indonesia and Ethiopia grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 planes. The Ethiopian Airlines flight was bound for Nairobi, Kenya.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Sunday it is "closely monitoring developments in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash," and said it would join the National Transportation Safety Board to assist Ethiopian civil aviation authorities to investigate the crash. It is the second time in five months the Boeing model airplane has been involved in a deadly crash. Last year, a Lion Air flight crashed soon after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia. All 189 passengers died.

A Boeing 737 Max gives a display during the opening day of the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire, England on July 16, 2018. (Andrew Matthews/PA Wire via ZUMA Press)

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The Boeing 737 Max is a new version of the 737. Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, the largest carrier at Hartsfield-Jackson, operates a number of 737s in its fleet, but does not fly the 737 Max.

Southwest Airlines operates 34 Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft — including on some flights from Atlanta — and issued a statement saying, “we have been in contact with Boeing and will continue to stay close to the investigation as it progresses. We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our entire fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737 aircraft, and we don’t have any changes planned to 737 MAX operation.”

American Airlines also operates the 737 Max 8, but said none of those jets in its fleet are used on its flights to or from Atlanta. American said it would “closely monitor the investigation in Ethiopia, which is our standard protocol for any aircraft accident” and said it continues to collaborate with the FAA and other regulatory authorities.

United Airlines operates the 737 Max 9, but not the 737 Max 8. “We have made clear that the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is safe and that our pilots are properly trained to fly the MAX aircraft safely,” United said in a written statement.