Move leaves US regulators increasingly isolated in maintaining plane is safe.
The UK, Germany, Austria, France and Ireland have joined a number of other countries in banning Boeing 737 Max planes from operating in or over its airspace, following a second fatal crash involving the plane in less than five months.
The move leaves US regulators, airlines and the manufacturer increasingly isolated in maintaining that the plane is safe.
But pressure on Boeing and the US air regulator Federal Aviation Administration to act could be intensified after Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter, declaring that planes were “becoming far too complex to fly”, and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants called on American Airlines to ground its 737 Max fleet pending further investigation.
A spokesman for the UK civil aviation authority said: “As we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder [black box] we have, as a precautionary measure, issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace.”
The British pilots’ union Balpa welcomed the decision, saying: “Safety must come first.”
There are five 737 Max aircraft registered and operational in the UK, all belonging to TUI. Norwegian has also grounded all its 18 737 Max 8 planes, registered across Europe, including several which it uses to operate transatlantic flights from Edinburgh and Ireland to the US.
Turkish Airlines also operates 737 Max 8 planes. Two of its flights bound for Britain appear to have been forced to turn back to Istanbul in midair, according to FlightRadar24.