As the troubled Boeing 737 MAX jets are being diverted in European skies, with nations shutting airspace over the deadly crash in Ethiopia one by one, an Israeli-bound Norwegian Airlines plane was forced to return to Stockholm.
Data from tracker website Flightradar24 shows that Norwegian flight DY4545 got as far as Romania before the plane was diverted back to Stockholm Arlanda Airport. The U-turn coincided with an announcement by Norwegian Airlines that it was suspending all Boeing 737 MAX 8 flights following the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday – the second disaster involving the new Boeing jet in the last six months.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority announced a ban on Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from British airspace on Tuesday. Britain has joined a growing number of countries grounding the plane after two deadly crashes in recent weeks.
The 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. The tragedy followed Indonesia’s Lion Air 737 MAX 8 crash in late October that killed 189 passengers and crew.
“Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the tragic incident in Ethiopia on Sunday,” the UK authority said in a statement.
“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.”
The aviation authority added that its “safety directive will be in place until further notice.”
“We remain in close contact with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and industry regulators globally,” the statement said.
According to the authority, there are currently five 737 MAX 8 aircraft registered and operational in the United Kingdom. A sixth was planned to commence operations later this week.
It noted that the “US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for certifying all Boeing 737 MAX models and it is the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that validates this certification across the EU, including the UK.”
The announcement by the United Kingdom follows similar moves by Australia, China, Indonesia, the Cayman Islands, Ethiopia, Mongolia, and Morocco.
On Tuesday, South Africa, Singapore, and Vietnam also announced that they were grounding the troubled aircraft. India’s aviation regulator also tightened norms governing the operation of the jet.
Shortly after the UK authority’s announcement, low-cost airline Norwegian said it will not operate any flights with the aircraft until further notice.
“In response to the temporary suspension of Being 737 MAX operations by multiple aviation authorities we have decided not to operate flights using this aircraft type until advised otherwise by the relevant aviation authorities,” said Tomas Hesthammer, Norwegian’s acting chief operating officer.