The United Kingdom has joined a growing list of countries to ban the Boeing 737 MAX from operating in or over its airspace following the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crashed that killed 157 on Sunday.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) claimed the move was made “as a precautionary measure,” joining Singapore, China, Malaysia, and Australia in their decision to ban the aircraft model, according to the BBC. The Ethiopian Airlines accident was the second one involving the 737 Max 8 in less than five months after a Lion Air plane of the same model crashed into the Java Sea back in October 2018.
The decision was supported by British pilots, and it will remain in place until further notice, with the CAA stating that it did so because there was not “sufficient information” from the flight data recorder about the latest accident. Both TUI Airways and Norwegian Airlines operate the Boeing 737 Max 8 in the U.K., with the former releasing a statement confirming the aircraft had been removed from their current fleet.
“Any customers due to fly home today on a 737 MAX 8 from their holiday will be flown back on another aircraft,” the statement said, adding that “customers due to travel in the coming days will also travel on holiday as planned on other aircraft.”
Norwegian also confirmed it had suspended some flights and apologized to its customers for the inconvenience. They join several other airlines across the world, including SilkAir, Fiji Airways, China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, and Thai Lion Air, among others.
Boeing 737 Max passenger jets stopped from flying in UK airspace after Ethiopia air crash – Civil Aviation Authority https://t.co/cWLGe98ntN
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) March 12, 2019
However, U.S. aviation officials maintain their position that the aircraft are safe to fly, and Southwest Airlines — which possesses the largest fleet of 737s in the country — is offering customers who are due on flights that use the jet the chance to change their reservation but is not offering any refunds. American Airlines confirmed that its “standard policies for changes still apply.”
MORE: Irish Aviation Authority says it has decided to temporarily suspend operation of all variants of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Irish airspace
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 12, 2019
The Boeing 737 Max is part of the American company’s very successful 737 line, with a fleet of 350 Max 8 models already delivered across the world out of over 5,000 placed orders. Ethiopian Airlines, which is widely considered one of the best in the African country, ordered 30 of them as part of their expansion plan, and it claimed that the jet underwent “rigorous first check maintenance” just last month.
After the Lion Air crash in Indonesia last year, investigators said the pilots appeared to struggle with a newly introduced gadget that helps keep the plane from stalling, but it is still not clear whether that was the cause of Sunday’s crash. Both the Lion Air and the Ethiopian Airlines planes crashed just minutes after taking off.