Flight Bound For Birmingham Forced To Turn Back After Boeing Hit With UK Ban
12 March 2019, 16:25
Passenger flights using Boeing's 737 Max plane have been banned from operating in the UK amid safety concerns following the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, which killed 157 people including nine Britons.
The Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) ruling covers all commercial flights in UK airspace and will remain in place "until further notice".
It means that a Turkish Airlines flight to Birmingham Airport from Turkey has been forced to turn around and told to head back to Istanbul.
A CAA spokesman said: "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 number of countries and airlines around the world have also grounded 737 Max 8 aircraft, which was the model involved when Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.
Tui Airways has the only five 737 Max 8 aircraft operated by a UK-based airline, and confirmed the planes have been grounded following the CAA's decision.
A Tui UK spokesman said its customers will "travel on holiday as planned on other aircraft".
Scandinavian airline Norwegian, which is the other major operator of 737 Max 8 aircraft in the UK, said it will not fly the planes "until advised otherwise" by aviation authorities.
The carrier apologised to customers "who will be affected by temporary cancellations and delays".
Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots' union Balpa, welcomed the CAA's ruling.
"Safety must come first," he said.
"It is too early to know the cause of the latest crash and it is vital that air accident investigators carry out a thorough investigation to identify the cause so that measures to prevent future accidents can be put in place."
The 737 Max 8 has also been grounded in China, Australia, South Korea, Singapore and Indonesia.
Boeing said in a statement it has "full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max".
It went on: "We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets.
"We'll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets.
"The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators."
The Ethiopian Airlines crash was the second deadly incident involving the new model of Boeing passenger jet in less than five months, prompting concerns over its safety.
The FAA said the planes were safe to operate, although it had a team on the ground in Ethiopia to assist with the investigation and was continuously assessing the safety performance of the aircraft.
(Picture: Flight Radar)