- A Boeing 737 Max plane was forced to land after Germany refused to let it into its airspace.
- Norwegian was trying to move the plane between Spain and Sweden with no passengers 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 to move them to different locations.
- Flight-tracking websites showed that the plane circled in the air just outside 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 model has been grounded around the world since March, after two crashes in less than six months that killed almost 350 people.
Some airlines, however, have continued a small number of flights without passengers to “reposition” the aircraft.
A spokesman for Norwegian told Business Insider the company was trying to move the jet from Málaga, Spain, to its base in Stockholm on Tuesday with no passengers on board.
He said Norwegian was trying to ensure all its 737 Max aircraft were in the same place during preparations for the US air regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, to approve a software update for the plane model that should allow it to fly again.
- REUTERS/Baz Ratner
But the jet was denied entry to German airspace and was instructed by French air-traffic controllers to land the plane in France, he 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,” a statement from Norwegian said. “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 the European Aviation Safety Agency, Europe’s aviation regulator.
The flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 shows that the plane traveled over France and circled at the German border before landing in France.
Norwegian told Business Insider on Friday morning that the plane was still in France.
The European aviation regulator barred 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, killing all 189 people on board.
But each individual country in the European Union 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 Flugsicherung, 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 that the plane would not be allowed to enter German airspace as a result.
But Norwegian’s spokesman told Business Insider the airline “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,” he added.
The spokesman said the airline received approval from Eurocontrol and EASA. When asked whether it contacted Germany, he said it “received the approvals from the relevant aviation bodies as required.”
The planes are expected to remain grounded until the software update is approved. EASA has said it has its own criteria the plane will have to meet before it can fly again, meaning it could fly in the US before it returns in Europe.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the French aircraft-control agency as ATC. It is DSNA.