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The UK’s aviation regulator has banned any Boeing 737 Max aircraft from arriving, departing, or overflying UK airspace following last Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash.
The decision is another blow for manufacturer Boeing and comes after similar bans in other part of the world.
“The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been closely monitoring the situation, however, as we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder we have, as a precautionary measure, issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace,” a spokesperson said.
“The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s safety directive will be in place until further notice.”
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has yet to issue a ban of its own and its most recent statement said it was “is monitoring the investigation closely” and working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and manufacturers.
There are currently five 737 Max aircraft registered and operational in the United Kingdom with another planned for later this week.
Air traffic website Flight Radar 24 showed a number of aircraft turning round and returning to where they took off.
Following the CAA’s decision and similar ones across the world, low-cost carrier Norwegian has decided to temporarily suspends flights with the Boeing 737 Max. It has 18 of the aircraft model in its fleet and deploys them on a mixture of short-haul and long-haul routes, including some to the United States.
Norwegian started operating the aircraft in 2017 and used the model to connect smaller airports on the U.S. east coast with the UK and Ireland. It has since axed some of these routes to cut costs.
Norwegian has more than 110 Boeing 737–800 aircraft in its fleet, which are not affected by this temporary suspension.
“In response to the temporary suspension of Being 737 MAX operations by multiple aviation authorities we have taken the decision to not operate flights using this aircraft type until advised otherwise by the relevant aviation authorities. We would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused, however, safety will always remain our top priority,” said Tomas Hesthammer, Norwegian’s acting chief operating officer.
Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia have already closed their airspace to the aircraft following the second crash in the past several months. The FAA has not yet ordered a ban, and U.S. airlines are at the moment staying committed to the jet.
Lion Air, the airline affected by the first crash, is refusing to take any more deliveries of the Boeing aircraft and is considering switching to rival Airbus, Bloomberg reported.
Ethiopian Airlines has recovered both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from Flight 302, which should help investigators shed light on what happened.