Airlines around the world ground Boeing 737 MAX jets after second fatal crash in 5 months

Getty Images / The first Boeing 737 MAX 9 airliner is pictured at the company’s factory on March 7, 2017 in Renton, Washington.

The British aviation regulator on Tuesday grounded Boeing 737 MAX planes, joining a growing list of countries and airlines from China to Mexico suspending the planes’s operations after the second deadly crash of the popular aircraft in less than five months.

“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,” it said.

The UK’s move comes a day after the Federal Aviation Administration said it did not see a reason yet to ground the best-selling Boeing jets as the U.S. aviation regulator increasingly stands alone on the issue. On Sunday an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board. That came after a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 plunged into the Java Sea in October, which killed the 189 people aboard.

Boeing noted that the FAA decided not to ground the planes and it wasn’t planning to issue new guidance to pilots “based on the information currently available.”

“We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets,” Boeing said in a statement. “We’ll continue to engage with all of them to ensure they have all the information they need to have the confidence they need safely continue to operate their fleets or return them to service.”

Boeing shares were down more than 4 percent in morning trading.

Automated systems on the Boeing 737 MAX have been under scrutiny since the Lion Air crash in October and Boeing said it is preparing software fixes as well as changes to pilot training and manuals.

After the UK issued its statement about the planes, President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted: “Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT.

“I see it all the time in many products,” he said. “Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better.”

The FAA did not immediately respond to request for comment.

A growing number of aviation regulators and airlines around the world have decided to temporarily ground the planes, of which there are more than 370 in fleets worldwide, pending more information about the Ethiopian Airlines crash. China, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia and airlines in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina have grounded the planes.

The UK’s measure would affect flights of low-cost airlines Norwegian Air Shuttle, Ryanair and Icelandair.

Air travelers and even some flight crews have expressed worry about the planes. Lori Bassani, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents flight attendants at American Airlines, said these crew members don’t have to fly these planes if they do not feel comfortable doing so. Airlines said they were not changing their ticket-change fees or costs for travelers wishing to switch flights to avoid the Boeing 737 MAX.

“No flight attendant is forced to fly if they feel unsafe in any situation,” she said. American operates 24 of these aircraft.

The airline’s pilots union is demanding at least some information about the latest crash and told its pilots Tuesday: “if you feel it is unsafe to work the 737 Max,you will not be forced to fly it.

Spokesman Dennis Tajer said the union is demanding more information about the crash. Investigators have recovered the so-called black boxes that contain flight data and cockpit voice recordings.

“The maybes aren’t going to cut it,” he said.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

-CNBC’s Phil LeBeau contributed to this report.

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