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”.
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 pair of Turkish Airlines 737 Max 8 services to London Gatwick and Birmingham returned to Istanbul mid-flight.
A number of other countries around the world have banned the 737 Max 8, which was the model involved when Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning.
This includes Ireland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, China, Australia, Singapore, Oman and Indonesia, but flights are continuing in the US and Canada.
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.”
On Monday former airline pilot Lord Tunnicliffe called on ministers at Westminster to stop the aircraft flying until there was “a satisfactory explanation” of the fatal Ethiopia crash.
He said: “In my day we had a rule – if it can go wrong it will go wrong. The industry seems to have lost sight of this rule. I believe everybody involved will be shown to be in dereliction of their duty.”
The Max aircraft has engines which are higher on the wing than previous models of the 737.
This affects aerodynamics, leading to Boeing introducing new software designed to prevent stalling.
US President Donald Trump tweeted that planes are “becoming far too complex to fly” which means they need to be operated by computer scientists rather than pilots.
He added: “The complexity creates danger.”
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.
This process is validated for European Union countries by the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa).
The passengers killed in Sunday’s crash came from 35 nations, including 32 from Kenya and 18 from Canada.
The British victims included “soft and loving” Joanna Toole, a United Nations worker from Devon, along with 55-year-old Joseph Waithaka, polar tourism expert Sarah Auffret, Sahra Hassan Said and Nasrudin Abdulkadir, a mother and son with dual Somali-British citizenship, and Sam Pegram, a 25-year-old from Lancashire.
Mr Pegram’s mother, Deborah, told the Lancashire Evening Post: “Sam was so looking forward to going to Nairobi. He loved the work he was doing.
“We can’t believe this has happened. We’re totally devastated.”
United Nations worker Ms Toole, 36, was the first British victim to be named.
Ms Toole’s father, Adrian, from Exmouth, told the DevonLive website that she was “genuinely one of those people who you never hear a bad word about”.
Mr Waithaka, 55, who lived in Hull for a decade before moving back to his native Kenya, also died in the crash, his son said.
The one Irish victim was named as Michael Ryan, a married father-of-two based in Rome with the UN’s World Food Programme, which distributes rations to people in need.
As many as 19 UN workers were feared to have been killed in the crash, the number being so high because of its environmental forum which started on Monday.