- A Boeing 737 Max plane was forced to land after Germany refused to let it into its airspace.
- Norwegian tried to move its plane between Spain and Sweden with no one on board so it could have more of its fleet in the same place, but the plane was forced to land in France.
- 737 Max planes are grounded around the world after two deadly crashes, but in some cases airlines are still able to fly them without passengers in order to move them to different locations.
- Flight tracking websites showed that the plane circled in the air just outside of Germany before it landed in France.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A Norwegian Air Boeing 737 Max plane was forced to land in France after Germany denied it entry to its airspace when the carrier tried to move it to a different airport.
The Boeing aircraft has been grounded around the world since March, after two crashes in less than six months which killed almost 350 people.
Some airlines, however, have continued a small number of flights without passengers in order to “reposition” the aircraft.
A spokesman for Norwegian told Business Insider that the company was trying to move the jet from Málaga, Spain to its base in Stockholm, Sweden, on Tuesday with no passengers on board.
He said that Norwegian was trying to ensure that all its 737 Max aircraft are in the same place as it prepares for the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to approve a software update for the plane that should allow it to fly again.
But the jet was denied entry to German airspace and was instructed by ATC, France’s air traffic control organization, to land the plane in France, he said.
A statement from Norwegian said: “Just before entering German airspace both the German and French authorities sent a notice that prohibited repositioning flights of the Boeing 737 MAX in their airspace. Our pilots were instructed to land south of Paris.”
Norwegian said the flight had been approved by Eurocontrol, Europe’s air traffic management organization, and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Flight tracking website FlightRadar24 shows that the plane travelled over France and circled at the German border before landing in France.
The Norwegian spokesman said they believed that the plane was still in France, and had not yet made it to Stockholm.
Europe’s aviation regulator, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), banned the 737 Max planes from European airspace on March 12, two days after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed and killed 157 people. A Lion Air 737 Max had crashed in Indonesia five months earlier, killed all 189 people on board.
But each individual country in the EU can decide whether planes are allowed into its airspace as part of “repositioning” flights that move planes to other airports or to a base, according to Aerotime News. EASA did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
A spokeswoman for Deutsche Flugsicherun, which runs air traffic control in Germany, told Business Insider that Germany extended its ban on all 737 Max flights through its airspace from Wednesday until September 8.
She said that the organization told Norwegian this, and said that the plane would not be allowed to enter German airspace as a result.
But Norwegian’s spokesman told Business Insider that it “did not receive any notice from the German authorities prior to the positioning flight departing.”
“If we had received any contrary information, we obviously wouldn’t have taken off.”
The spokesman said it received approval from Eurocontrol and EASA. When asked if it contacted Germany, it said it “received the approvals from the relevant aviation bodies as required.”
The planes will remain grounded until the software update is approved. EASA has previously said it has its own criteria that the plane will have to meet before it can fly again, meaning it could fly in the US before it returns in Europe.