Europe joins wave of countries grounding the 737 Max

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The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has suspended the Boeing 737 MAX from flying into or over its airspace “to ensure the safety of passengers”. It joins the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in banning the plane.

It comes after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on Sunday, killing 157 people on board. It was the second fatal accident involving the 737 Max 8 model in less than five months.

US officials say the aircraft are still safe to fly. France and Germany announced earlier that they had grounded the jets, joining similar decisions by other nations such as China.

The EU Aviation Safety Agency said it made the decision “as a precautionary measure”. Investigators have recovered the flight recorders from the Ethiopian Airlines plane and are currently examining the data to determine what caused the crash.

“The accident investigation is currently ongoing, and it is too early to draw any conclusions as to the cause of the accident”, EU Aviation Safety Agency stated.

The CAA said the directive would remain in place until further notice.

It said it took the decision because it did not currently have “sufficient information” from the flight data recorder about the fatal crash. Tui Airways and Norwegian both operate the Boeing Max 8 in the UK as part of their fleets.

Norwegian is among the airlines forced to ground its 737 Max fleet

One Turkish Airlines flight to Birmingham turned around and returned to Istanbul. And a Norwegian Air plane from Stockholm to Tel Aviv turned back over Romania. A Tui statement confirmed their 737 Max 8 aircraft were grounded.

“Any customers due to fly home today on a 737 MAX 8 from their holiday will be flown back on another aircraft,” it read. “Customers due to travel in the coming days will also travel on holiday as planned on other aircraft.”

Norwegian said it had also suspended flights of the aircraft and apologised for the inconvenience to passengers.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has declared the 737 Max 8 airworthy. But the largest operator of 737 Max 8s in America, Southwest Airlines, is offering passengers scheduled to fly on one of the Boeing planes the chance to change their bookings.

Rival American Airlines said its “standard policies for changes still apply”. (BBC)

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