Boeing 737 MAX-8 Flights Postponed due to Extra Security Measures
The departure of the five Icelandair Boeing 737 MAX-8 planes, which were planned to take off today, was unexpectedly postponed yesterday night. The French Directorate General for Civil Aviation has placed additional conditions on the flights, to ensure their complete safety. The stipulations include the demand that the planes not fly over urban areas.
Icelandair intends to fly the airplanes to Tolouse, France for storage, to protect them from the wear and tear caused by harsher weather conditions at Keflavík airport. The planes have been grounded in storage at Keflavík airport for half a year since two separate 737 MAX-8 planes crashed in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
The planes were to take off today, October 1. Icelandair is now working on a new flight plan, which fulfils the requirements of French aviation authorities. However, there are other factors at play which might interrupt the transportation of the planes. Military exercises off the west coast of Ireland could delay the flights even further, as well as worse weather conditions later this week. As one of the conditions for the flight is that they fly at a lower altitude than normal, the weather is expected to disturb the planes more than usual. Þórarinn Hjálmarsson, pilot and head of fleet at Icelandair, hopes that they can fly the planes to Toulouse on Thursday or Friday. Icelandair expects the flights to take off once the new flight plans will be submitted to, and accepted by French authorities.
Þórarinn is one of the four pilots assigned to transport the planes, who have been training in a flight simulator to prepare for the journey. “We need to fly with the wing flaps out, as little as possible,” Þórarinn explained. “We need to go at a lower speed and we need to be at a lower altitude than usual.” Under such conditions, Þórarinn says, a crash like those that occurred in Ethiopia and Indonesia is “just not possible.” The trip will take two hours longer than normal, as the planes cannot exceed an altitude of 20,000 feet.