The Southwest Airlines flights between the Portland International Jetport and Baltimore sometimes use the same Boeing 737 Max 8 airliner that was involved in two fatal crashes in the last six months.

A Southwest spokesman said the company is confident of the safety of its Boeing jets. On Tuesday, spokesman Dan Landson could not say if upcoming Portland flights would use the jets because its fleet is interchangeable.

Southwest used a 737 Max 8 jet for four flights on the Portland-Baltimore route on Monday and Tuesday, according to flight tracking website flightaware. The airline has scheduled the jets on its midmorning flights from Portland on Thursday and Friday, according to its booking website.

Southwest will continue flying 737 Max 8 jets while investigators probe the cause of Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 jet, Landson said. The crash killed all 157 people on board. In October, 189 people were killed when a 737 Max 8 jet flown by Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea near Indonesia.

“As the investigation of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 progresses, we are staying in close contact with Boeing, the FAA, and other airlines to learn the cause of the accident,” he said. Southwest operates 34 of the 737 Max 8 aircraft, less than 5 percent of the 750 Boeing 737 aircraft in its fleet.

“We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of the Max 8,” Landson said. “We don’t have any changes planned to our Max 8 operations.”


Countries in the European Union, as well as China, the United Kingdom and Ireland, grounded 737 Max 8 jets following Monday’s crash.

Southwest “regularly uses” the jets on its daily service between Portland and Baltimore, Portland Jetport Director Paul Bradbury said. He did not know precisely when Southwest flies the jets into Portland, but because they carry more people than a regular 737, they are used more frequently in the summer, the airport’s busiest season.

The Federal Aviation Administration told The Associated Press on Monday that while others have drawn similarities between the Indonesia and Ethiopia crashes, the agency has not. The FAA also said that no later than April it expects Boeing will complete changes, including new training for pilots and software updates for automated anti-stall technology that is suspected of playing a role in the Indonesia crash.

Boeing says it has “full confidence” in the safety of the 737 Max.

“We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets,” the aerospace company said in a statement Tuesday. “We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure the have all the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets.”

American Airlines is the only other U.S. carrier to use the 737 Max 8, but not on flights out of Portland.

Peter McGuire can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

Twitter: PeteL_McGuire

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