ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — Several members of Congress have called for the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft following fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia less than five months apart. KTUU reached out to Alaska's Congressional delegation to see where they stand.
A statement from Rep. Don Young's office deferred to the FAA, which has declined to ground the aircraft in the U.S.
"As a pilot himself, Congressman Don Young has faith in the Federal Aviation Administration's aircraft certification process, and will continue monitoring future developments related to the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy."
In a statement to Channel 2, the office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski expressed grief for the passengers killed in the accident and said supports a Senate investigation into the cause of the crashes.
"It’s our understanding that there are currently no Boeing Model 737 Max aircraft flying in Alaska. The Ethiopian Airlines recent crash was absolutely tragic and has created great attention on the safety of the Boeing Model 737 Max aircraft," the statement said. "Senator Murkowski supports the Senate Commerce Aviation and Space Subcommittee’s plans to hold a future hearing to investigate these crashes and determine their contributing factors. The importance of safety cannot be understated."
In a statement Tuesday, the FAA said that the agency doesn't have enough information to order a grounding.
"The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX. Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft," the statement says. "Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action. In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action."
Some airlines in the U.S. have chosen to continue flying the MAX 8 aircraft, with no plans to voluntarily ground the aircraft.
American Airlines currently has 24 MAX 8s in its fleet. Another U.S. carrier, Southwest Airlines has 34. Both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have expressed confidence in the use of the aircraft.
Alaska Airlines said in a statement that the company doesn't operate any MAX 8 aircraft.
"To date, we have not had any MAX aircraft in our fleet," the release said. "Our hearts are with all those impacted by the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy."
A news release from Boeing in 2014 announced a $5 billion purchase by Alaska Airlines that included 20 MAX 8s and 17 MAX 9s.
Alaska Airlines said that its first MAX delivery is not scheduled until June.
Anchorage resident Rick Steiner, who's currently in Nairobi attending a UN environmental conference, says some passengers of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 were headed to the conference.
"There's great remorse and shock about them, their loss, but also in honor of them and respect for them, there's great resolve to try to move the agenda forward that they all believed in," Steiner said. "I think that's the bright light that will come out of this thing, that if we can embody what they believed in, and a lot of people dedicated their lives to this issue, and move it forward, then that will be a way to respect the loss."
If you'd like to know what type of aircraft your flight is using, there's a website called Seat Guru where you can enter your flight number, and click on "view map" there will be additional details including the exact aircraft model that will be used for that flight.
This story will be updated as we receive additional statements from Alaska's members of congress.