Boeing plane's safety concerns leave passengers feeling turbulent


HOUSTON – Flights weren’t the only things airborne at Bush Intercontinental Airport on Monday.

Many travelers, like Virginia Kelly, arrived to the airport questioning the safety of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 planes, following the deadly crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. All 157 people on board that flight died minutes after takeoff.

“It was concerning -- and I know it’s a 757, and it made me think what was the kind of plane I was flying on today,” said Kelly, who was leaving Houston for Chicago.

Southwest Airlines has more than 30 Max 8 jetliners in its fleet. United Airlines does not have any but it does have 14 Max 9 planes.

Houston aviation expert John Verdee said the two models aren’t that much different.

He said the software is the same on the Max 8 and 9. Verdee said the main difference is that the Max 9 is longer.

“We don’t have any indication that anyone should be calling the airline and saying get me off of that Max aircraft,” he said. “Right now, I think doing so would be a rash decision. The aircraft appears to be perfectly safe.”

The deadly crash in Ethiopia is the second one in months involving Boeing’s Max 8. That same model Boeing crashed in Indonesia months prior, killing everyone aboard.

“Is there a problem with the technology? Is there a problem with the instrumentation?” Verdee said.

While Ethiopian and Cayman Airlines have both grounded their Max aircraft, airlines across the United States are keeping them in the sky.

United Airlines released a statement to KPRC2 saying the Boeing 737 Max aircraft is safe and its pilots are trained to fly them. Southwest said it’s confident in the safety of the entire fleet and doesn’t have any changes planned for its operations.

While some passengers are feeling turbulent about the 737 Max aircraft, other passengers are keeping their faith in the air.

“I mean flying you take a risk,” said United Airlines passenger Anu Palusamy. “You take a risk driving. You can have a faulty car, faulty plane, anything can happen.”

Those who want a real-time look at all the 737 Max aircraft flying in the sky can click here.

You can see where all those planes are flying, their destination and which airline is operating the planes.

Some airlines are rebooking concerned passengers on a case-by-case basis.

Here is the full statement from Southwest Airlines:

"Our heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the passengers and Employees on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. As Southwest operates a fleet of 34 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, 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 operations."

Here is the full statement from United Airlines:

"We are deeply saddened by the tragedy involving our Star Alliance partner, Ethiopian Airlines. Our sincerest condolences go out to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

"United Airlines currently has 14 MAX-9 and no MAX-8 or MAX-10 aircraft in our fleet.

"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."