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By Minyvonne Burke
The European Union’s aviation safety agency said Tuesday it is suspending all Boeing 737 Max aircraft after an Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday killed all 157 people aboard.
The move came after several countries and airlines from China to Britain, and Norwegian Air to Aeromexico, grounded the aircraft.
The E.U. Aviation Safety Agency said as a precaution it was “suspending all flight operations” for Boeing 737 Max 8, and the Max 9, as well as “suspending all commercial flights performed by third-country operators into, within or out of the E.U.”
Earlier Tuesday, a spokesperson for Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said that out of precaution it had “issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying U.K. airspace.”
Following recommendations by European aviation authorities, Norwegian Air said Tuesday that the Boeing 737 Max would be temporarily suspended and it “will not operate any flights with this aircraft type until further notice.”
“We would like to apologize to customers who will be affected by temporary cancellations and delays, but the safety and security of our customers and colleagues will never be compromised, and once authorities advise to cease operations we will of course comply,” the airline company said.
Flydubai, a low-cost airline owned by the government of Dubai, issued a similar statement saying its fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 jets were forbidden from flying.
“Flydubai is adjusting its schedule to minimize disruption to passengers and will operate flights with its fleet of Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Where there are flight cancellations flydubai will contact passengers directly,” the airline said.
Aviation authorities in Ireland, France and Germany also said that commercial flights by Boeing 737 Max aircraft were prohibited from departing, arriving or flying over their airspace.
The announcements came after Australia, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Argentina and Mexico’s Aeromexico grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 jets. The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday said U.S. airlines could still fly the 737 Max 8 and its newer version, the Max 9.
The Max 8 plane that crashed shortly after takeoff Sunday was new and had been delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in November. There were 149 passengers and eight crew members aboard the Nairobi-bound flight, the airline said.
There were no survivors, and the cause of the crash is being investigated. The same model aircraft was also involved in a crash in Indonesia in late October that left 189 people dead.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, condemned the FAA’s decision.
“Out of an abundance of caution for the flying public, the @FAANews should ground the 737 MAX 8 until we investigate the causes of recent crashes and ensure the plane’s airworthiness,” he wrote on Twitter Tuesday.
American Airlines said Tuesday that it believes the 737 Max model is safe and their pilots are equipped to operate it.
“The safety and security of our team members and our customers remains our top priority,” American Airlines said in a statement. “We are keen to learn any findings from the Cockpit Voice Recorder and Flight Data Recorder, which will provide a better understanding of the cause of this recent accident.”
In response to the growing pressure to keep the aircraft from flying, Boeing said it began developing enhancements to its flight-control software after the Indonesia crash and will implement those changes in the “coming weeks,” according to Reuters.