The United Kingdom on Tuesday banned airlines from flying Boeing 737 Max 8 planes into or out of its airports as global pressure mounted to halt flights of the U.S. aircraft giant's hottest-selling model.

    A team of U.S. aviation experts?arrived in Ethiopia?and began collecting data aimed at solving the mystery of the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed?minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa two days ago, killing all 157 aboard.

    The?MAX 8, just 4 months old?and?six minutes into its flight to Nairobi on Sunday when it nosedived into a field, has become a critical focus of the investigation.?

    The first Max 8s made their debut two years ago. U.S. carriers operate 74 of them and 387 fly?worldwide. Now,?China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Oman and Australia are among nations that have temporarily grounded the planes, and?Norwegian Air Shuttle on Tuesday joined more than two dozen?airlines parking their Max 8s.

    The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority said Tuesday that it did not have sufficient information about the crash.?

    "We have, as a precautionary measure, issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace," the authority said in a statement.

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    There has been pushback in the U.S. as well. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, called on the FAA to ground the planes "out of an abundance of caution for the flying public" until safety can be assured.?Sens.?Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and?Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also called for the FAA to ground the MAX 8.

    The FAA, however, on Tuesday stood by its earlier determination?of “continued airworthiness” for the Boeing 737 MAX fleet, Marcia Alexander-Adams, an agency spokeswoman, said in an email.

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    Boeing, in a statement Tuesday, restated its “full confidence in the safety of the MAX” and noted that the FAA has not mandated grounding the planes.?

    "Based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators,” Boeing said.

    The tragedy comes less than five months after?a?Lion Air plane of the same model?crashed into the Java Sea – 12 minutes after departing from the airport in Jakarta, Indonesia. None of the 189?passengers and crew survived.

    "External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident," the FAA said. "However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions."

    The agency said, however, that?it expects to require Boeing to complete Max 8 flight control system enhancements – prompted by the Lion Air crash – by month's end.

    The FAA said it was providing technical support to the?Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau.?Boeing said it was also aiding the investigation.

    The plane was delivered to the airline in November,?had flown only 1,200 hours and had undergone a "rigorous" maintenance check Feb. 4. The?pilot, who had?more than 8,000 hours of flight experience, had issued a distress call and was attempting to return to the airport.

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    The?"black box" voice and data recorders had been found, raising hopes that investigators?soon learn more details of the crash.?Airline CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told CNN the?pilots told air traffic control they were having “flight control problems” before the crash.?

    The stakes for Boeing are high: Airlines have ordered 4,661 more of the planes — the newest version of the 737 and best-selling airliner ever.?

    Southwest and?American fly the plane?and both expressed confidence in their fleets.?Southwest, which has 34 of the planes and is adding more, said on Twitter that?the airline had flown 31,000 flights on 737 MAX planes?and plans on "operating those aircraft?going forward."

    President Donald Trump weighed in on Twitter but took no position on grounding the planes. Trump said planes have become so complex that "computer scientists from MIT" are required to fly them.

    "Split second decisions are needed, and the complexity creates danger," Trump added. "I don’t want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!"

    Contributing: Bart Jansen and Tom Vanden Brook

    This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: UK becomes latest to ground Boeing 737 Max 8 jets after Ethiopian Airlines crash


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