CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - After two deadly plane crashes, four months apart, there is renewed scrutiny over the Boeing 737 MAX-8 plane.
"Crew and passengers are expressing concern," said Association of Flight Attendants president Sara Nelson. "Regulators, manufacturers and airlines must take steps to address concerns immediately."
The deadly crash in Ethiopia follows a similar deadly incident last November in Indonesia. Both crashes invovled the new MAX-8. China, Indonesia, and Ethiopia have grounded the plane. The United States has not.
American Airlines has 24 MAX-8 planes in its fleet. United Airlines has 14 MAX-9, which is similar, and Southwest Airlines has 34. FOX 46 asked if any of the impacted planes fly in or out of Charlote-Douglas International Airport. Both American and United officials said no. Southwest officials say the MAX plane flies "throughout our network" but noted they "don't have a breakdown by city."
All three carriers expressed confidence in the safety of the aircraft.
"The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is safe," United said in a staetment. "Our pilots are properly trained to fly the MAX aircraft safely."
"We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our entire fleet of more than 750 Boeing 737 aircraft," Southwest said in a statement. "And we don't have any changes planned to 737 MAX operations."
"We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members," American Airlines said in a statement, "who are the best and most experienced in the industry."
The Federal Aviation Administration is "closely monitoring developments" and plan to join the National Transportation Safety Board in its assistance with Ethiopian civil aviation authorities to investigate the crash.
After last year's deadly Lion Air crash in Indonesia, the FAA issued an airworthiness directive on Nov. 7, that directed airlines to revise flight manuals to include "runaway horizontal stablilizer" procedures.
Both deadly crashes occurred shortly after take off - which leaves little room for error.
"When a software issue, if that's the case, reveals itself," said Robert Katz, a pilot and flight instructor with 30 years experience, "than there's not a lot of altitude available to work with to resolve the problem."
Katz says some pilots are mostly trained, and over-reliant, on automation. A problem, he says, if something goes wrong.
He would like to see automation eliminated below 10,000 feet.
"The use of this automation is being overused," he said. "Pilots today are depending upon this automation versus hand-flying."
"I belive to the detriment of safety," he added.
The Air Line Pilots Association released a statement saying its members were saddened by the loss of life and cautioned against speculation about what may have caused the accident.
"Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this acident," Boeing officials said in a statement, "working clsoely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved."
Boeing officials noted that while the investigation is still in its early stages there is no "basis to issue new guidance to operators."
A Boeing team is traveling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the NTSB and the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau.
"We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board," Boeing officials said, "and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team."