March 18 UPDATE: The FAA grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 aircraft on Wednesday, March 13. The investigation on the cause behind the crash of Ethiopian Air Flight 302 continues.
Two fatal crashes involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet aircraft in the last five months have caused growing international concern over the plane’s safety.
On March 10, Ethiopian Air Flight 302 crashed near the Ethiopian town of Bishoftu shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 passengers and crew onboard. The first major MAX 8 incident occurred in October when Lion Air Flight 610 crashed minutes after departing from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Indonesia, killing 189 people.
While the Federal Aviation Administration has not grounded the 737 MAX 8 in the United States, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) joined China, Australia, and Indonesia, among other countries, in suspending operation of the aircraft on Tuesday.
Boeing issued a statement expressing “full confidence” in its 737 MAX 8 model, which entered commercial service in May 2017.
“The United States Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators,” the company said.
A chart displaying commercial orders on Boeing’s website shows a total of 376 MAX 8s delivered to nearly 80 airlines since October 2017.
American Airlines and Southwest are the only two carriers at Pittsburgh International that deploy the aircraft in their fleets. American does not operate any flights to and from PIT using the MAX 8, and less than 1 percent of Southwest flights to and from PIT last month were aboard MAX 8s.
“While we are not the decision-maker on whether or not aircraft are certified to operate, we are here to support the safety culture that our airlines, regulators and government partners have instilled in the industry,” said Bryan Dietz, PIT’S vice president of air service development.
April Gasparri, senior vice president of public safety, operations, & maintenance, added that ensuring the safety of the traveling public is always the airport’s top priority.
“As regulatory bodies gain insight into the root causes of the tragic accident, we remain fully committed to supporting the airlines’ continuity of operations and customer service,” she said.