Icelandair Launches New Training Programme

Keflavík airport Icelandair

Icelandair has announced the launch of a new training programme, set to begin this winter.

The programme will partner together with the Norwegian Pilot Flight Academy and is intended to give students priority to employment at Icelandair upon graduation.

Applications for the program will be open from September 14th to September 28th, 2023.

Crucial to support aviation

Regarding the recent announcement, Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason stated: “As an island, Iceland is heavily reliant on aviation, so it is crucial that we offer excellent educational opportunities in the specialized fields of aviation. While Icelandair continues to experience high demand for positions within our company, it is important to support the continued growth of our society and ensure a skilled workforce for the future.”

The programme is open to applicants between the ages 18-30 who have a high school level education and good English skills. Icelandic proficiency is not required, but desirable.

The first part of the training is theoretical and takes place in Sandefjord, Norway, lasting for about 8 months. Students will then go to Texas for 4 months to complete their practical training.

After completing their practical training, students return to Norway for instrument and multi-engine training (approximately 90 flight hours), along with A-UPRT and APS MCC training.

The entire programme takes approximately 18 months.

 

Direct Flights to be Offered Between Zürich and Akureyri

edelweiss airline akureyri

Edelweiss, a Swiss airline, has announced that it will be offering direct flights between Zürich and Akureyri for a seven-week period this coming summer.

The flights will run from July 7 to August 18, but the airline has also announced plans to introduce a longer 4-month long route in the summer of 2024, if the route proves popular.

See also: Play Adds Routes to Stockholm, Hamburg

The route will be serviced by an Airbus A320, which is capable of carrying some 174 passengers.

In a press release, Edelweiss airline stated: “Akureyri is the ideal starting point for visiting the highlights of Iceland and can also be perfectly combined with flights to Keflavik. The airport in the north of the country is served every Friday.”

The new route is just one new addition in an attempt to increase international connections to the North of Iceland. German airline Condor has also announced new routes to Akureyri in the summer, giving travelers to Iceland more choices than previous, in addition to opening up a new region of the country to tourism.

Iceland’s First Electric Aircraft Has Arrived

Iceland’s first electric aircraft arrived by ship in Sundahöfn Harbour yesterday, Vísir and Stöð 2 report. The aircraft, which is a small Pipistrel Velis Electro two-seater, will primarily be used for pilot training. The Velis Electro, which is produced in Slovenia, is the world’s first electric powered airplane to receive a Type Certificate from EASA.

The purchase of the aircraft was the initiative of Matthías Sveinbjörnsson and Friðrik Pálsson, who have launched an effort to electrify Iceland’s aircraft fleet. In an interview with Stöð 2 News last night, they stated that the arrival of the aircraft is an important first step in making aviation in the country eco-friendlier.

“We have been working on this for more than two years now,” Matthías says. “The next steps involve bringing together a group of people who are interested in the issue and are willing to help us out,” Friðrik adds.

They say that the aircraft will probably not take off until next spring. Preparations, such as registration and training, are estimated to take a couple of months.

Electrically powered passenger planes may become a reality in just a few years

Electrically powered aircrafts have existed since the 1970s but most of those who have been produced since then have either been unmanned or experimental prototypes. However, there has been a growing interest in the development of electric passenger aircrafts in recent years, primarily due to their reduced environmental impact.

But are electric aircrafts a realistic alternative to traditional petroleum-powered airplanes? Friðrik and Matthías are certain that in just a few years, electrically powered passenger airplanes will become a reality. They point out that a 19-seat electric aircraft, E-19 Heart Aerospace, is currently being developed in Sweden. If all goes according to plan, the aircraft will be operating within five years.

“The wait is shorter than people think,” Matthías says.

WOW Buyer Ballarin Claims Indirect Ownership in Icelandair

Ballarin introduces WOW asset purchase.

American businesswoman Michelle Ballarin says other parties hold shares in Icelandair on her behalf of which she is the true owner. In 2019, Ballarin purchased Icelandic low-cost airline WOW air’s assets after the company went bankrupt. She told RÚV reporters there were plans to merge the still-defunct airline with Icelandair.

Iceland Review reported on WOW air’s bankruptcy in March, 2019, when the company unceremoniously ceased all service, stranding passengers on both sides of the Atlantic and prompting what were then the largest layoffs in Icelandic history. Later that year, Ballarin purchased WOW air’s assets and stated at a Reykjavík press conference that she planned to resurrect the airline. Nearly one and a half years later, WOW air remains defunct, but Ballarin nevertheless appears to have big plans for the brand as well as broader ambitions in Iceland’s aviation industry.

Icelandair – the only remaining commercial airline in the nation after the fall of WOW air – experienced its own financial struggles throughout last year as the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel more or less to a halt. The company managed to stay afloat, however, thanks to government support and restructuring its finances, in part through a successful public stock offering last September. In the stock campaign, Icelandair rejected an offer of ISK 7 billion [$274.688 million; €231.961 million] from Ballarin, who would have gained ownership of one-fourth of the company had her offer been accepted. Ballarin now claims, however, that other parties hold shares in the company on her behalf.

Ballarin says she plans to purchase more shares in Icelandair and merge the airline with WOW. An interview with Ballarin, where she discusses WOW air and her thoughts about the future of aviation, is featured in investigative journalism program Kveikur tonight.

Icelandair Implements Regular Drug Testing of All Staff

Keflavík airport Icelandair

New EU regulations that take effect in February require all airlines flying within the European Union to conduct regular drug tests of flight and security staff. Icelandair will apply this regulation to all staff, including those in administrative positions, starting this month. Ásdís Ýr Pétursdóttir, Icelandair’s Public Relations Officer, told Fréttablaðið the company will emphasise education, prevention, and support alongside the new testing procedures.

Under the new EU regulation, certain airline staff working within the union’s member states will be required to undergo regular testing for “psychoactive substances,” defined as “alcohol, opioids, cannabinoids, sedatives and hypnotics, cocaine, other psychostimulants, hallucinogens, and volatile solvents, with the exception of caffeine and tobacco.” The regulations stipulate that in cases of “reasonable suspicion,” alcohol tests may be carried out “at any time.” Flight crew or cabin crew may be suspended from duty if they refuse to co-operate during tests.

Icelandair Extents Testing to All Employees

“As a company in aviation where safety is always a priority, we have decided that this policy will apply to [all staff], but procedures will differ between groups. Icelandair strives to create a safe and healthy workplace and this is one aspect of that, and there will be great emphasis on education, prevention, and support in this project,” Icelandair’s PRO told reporters.

Icelandair staff will attend a short workshop later this week where the new regulations will be presented to them. At the end of the month, they will be sent an amendment to their employment contracts concerning the new testing procedures.

Legal Framework for Drug Testing Unclear in Iceland

Iceland’s Parliament has not passed any legislation regarding drug testing of employees. A 2013 opinion from the Data Protection Authority stated there was no legal authorisation for the collection of samples for drug testing from employees of companies or institutions in Iceland. In addition, the Administration of Occupational Safety and Health (Vinnueftirlitið) did not have sufficient legal authority to respond to such cases.

Landing Gear On Icelandair Flight Collapses After Touchdown

Passengers on an Icelandair flight arriving in Keflavík experienced a particularly bumpy landing on Friday afternoon. RÚV reports that the plane’s landing gear collapsed after touchdown, but none of the 166 people on board were injured. The Icelandic Transportation Safety Board (ITSB) is investigating the incident.

Passengers reported that the right side of the Boeing 757-200 arriving from Berlin lifted off the runway after touchdown, then returned to the tarmac. The plane is said to have skidded to a stop on the right engine, which created some sparking and smoke. Nevertheless, passengers said they were not jostled too much and everyone on board remained calm.

‘Considerable amount of time’ before aircraft returns to service

The plane stopped in the middle of the runway and passengers disembarked via a mobile staircase. Crisis services were on hand to tend to them. Two cranes, air cushions, and jacks were needed to then remove the plane from the runway, which was then cleaned of oil and debris. Other flights to and from Keflavík remained on schedule.

Ragnar Guðmundsson, who is overseeing the ITSB’s investigation, says that it will be a “considerable amount of time” before the plane, which was manufactured 20 years ago, will be returned to service. It has yet to be decided if the event will be classified as an “aviation incident” or “aviation accident.”

‘The pictures tell their stories,’ but investigation could take years

As of Sunday, Icelandair’s CEO Bogi Nils Bogason had confirmed that the plane’s TF FIA landing gear was brand new; the plane’s old gear was replaced when the aircraft underwent a comprehensive inspection in Kelowna, Canada in November of last year. The aircraft went back into service in January and has completed around 60 flights since then.

Per The Aviation Herald, a photo of the right-side landing gear shows that “a bolt holding the gear mechanism together was missing.” Bogi Nils said he was unable to comment on whether or not this is true. “There are, of course, a number of things that happen to an aircraft when an incident occurs,” he told RÚV. “Such that afterwards, it doesn’t look like it did before the incident occurred.”

“The pictures tell their stories,” Bogi Nils continued. “But as I said, I can’t say more about the incident than that…Everything that concerns the incident and concerns the landing gear and the like is being investigated.”

In an interview on Saturday afternoon, Ragnar Guðmundsson said the investigation was in its early stages, and could take anywhere from one to three years to complete. The next step will be for the aircraft’s black box to be sent out for analysis.

 

WAB air to Rise from the Ruins of WOW Air

WOW air tourism Iceland

Two ex-directors at the now defunct airline WOW air are working on founding a new low-fare airline from the ruins of WOW air. The twosome is working on raising the airline from the ground with investors. It is planned that WAB air becomes operational next fall. According to plans, the airline will operate six airplanes which will fly to fourteen destinations in Europe and the United States. WAB is a working name at the moment and stands for We Are Back.

The plans account for a million passengers travelling with the airline in the first year, and that it will hire 500 employees in the next twelve months. The revenue is expected to be close to 20 billion ISK (140m €, 157m $) in the next year. Former founder and CEO of WOW air Skúli Mogensen is not involved with the new airline.

This was revealed recently in Markaðurinn, a supplement to the business journal Viðskiptablaðið. The Irish investment fund Avianta Capital has committed 5 billion ISK (35m €, 39.2m $) towards new shares. Avianta receives a 75% share in WAB air in return. The investment fund is owned by Aislinn Whittley-Ryan, the daughter of one of the owners of low-fare airline Ryanair. The remaining 25% will be in control of the company Neo, owned by two former WOW air directors. The ex-directors are Arnar Már Magnússon, who ran WOW air’s flight operations, and Sveinn Ingi Steinþórsson, from WOW air’s economic department. Along with the WOW air employees, Neo is owned by Bogi Guðmundsson, a lawyer at Atlantik Legal Services and a board member of BusTravel, as well as Þóroddur Ari Þóroddsson, a consultant in airplane trade.

There have been discussions with Icelandic banks Arion Bank and Landsbankinn in order to secure a 3.9 billion ISK (27.4m €, 30.7m $) to Avianta Capital. The loan window would be for one year, and the loan is intended for use as equity to secure a loan from an unnamed Swiss bank.

Invented a Carbon Offset Calculator to Fight Flying Shame

An Icelandic PhD student in computer science has created a program which calculates how many trees travellers have to plant to carbon offset their flights. Matthías Páll Gissurarson, a student at Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden, wanted to find a way to get rid of his ‘flugviskubit‘ (flying shame). Originally derived from the Swedish term ‘flygskam’, flying shame refers to the guilty conscience travellers feel due to the substantial environmental impact air travel has. The ‘flygskam’ movement is essentially anti-flight as it aims to get people to stop travelling by aviation to lower carbon emissions. However, flying in and out of Iceland is the only viable option for many, so a calculator such as this can help avid travellers heading to Iceland with calculating their carbon emissions.

Matthías has named the calculator FFCO, the fuel-based carbon offset calculator for flights. The website also provides links to carbon offset projects both in Iceland and the United States where users can carbon offset their travels.

Getting rid of flying shame
“I was buying a flight to the United States and saw that the flight which I was purchasing did not reveal information on how much carbon the flight releases,” Matthías said in an interview with Vísir. More and more airlines have started to offer passengers the option to pay extra fees to carbon offset their travels. “I saw how easy it was to find the information so I decided to create a program to get rid of the flying shame more easily,” he stated. Those using the calculator can now compare the environmental impact of their flight to different flights, as the impact can vastly differ between companies based on factors such as aircraft type or fuel economy, amongst others.

Users input the flight number of their flight leg and receive information about how much fuel the plane uses on the trip as well as how many trees need to planted to offset the environmental impact. Matthías retrieves fuel data information from the flight tracking website FlightAware and seating information from SeatGuru. The carbon offset calculator always uses the most recent information about flights, which get updated regularly.

Head to Matthías’ website to calculate how many trees you need plant for your flight: FFCO, the fuel-based carbon offset calculator for flights

Matthías on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tritlo

[media-credit name=”FFCO / Matthías Páll Gissurarson” align=”alignnone” width=”1024″][/media-credit]

More Women Graduating from Flight School

Nearly a third of the recent graduates from the Icelandic Flight Academy, or 16 out of 55 students, were women, RÚV reports. There has never been a higher proportion of women to graduate from the academy’s commercial aviation program.

This is the second year in a row that the number of women aviation graduates has topped previous totals. Last year, the Keilir Aviation Academy (which recently bought the Icelandic Flight Academy) reported that women made up roughly a fifth of their commercial aviation students, i.e. 37 women enrolled in fall 2018. The academy chalked this development up to young women increasingly pursuing careers that have traditionally been reserved for men.

“The lack of women pilots in commercial aviation makes it so that young women think there’s something that will keep them from [following this career path]. I want to change that,” remarked Telma Rút Frímannsdóttir, who graduated from Keilir a couple years ago. “I’m proud to be a commercial pilot and I want to encourage young women to become commercial pilots as well.”

As of 2018, only about 5% of commercial pilots worldwide were women. The percentage at the same time was somewhat higher in Iceland. Of the 807 pilots and captains working for airlines in Iceland last year, 57 (about 7%) were women.

Icelandair Grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 Planes

Pictured above is an Icelandair Boeing 757 plane.

Icelandair Group released today that it will ground its Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, three in total. The planes will be grounded for the foreseeable future. Icelandair stocks had fallen rapidly on the Reykjavík stock exchange.

The decision to ground the plane follows in the wake of numerous countries and airlines who have decided to ground the 737 Max 8 type. British aviation authorities grounded the planes in their airspace today while Norwegian Air has also grounded their planes. Indonesian, Australian, Chinese, and Singaporean authorities had previously grounded the planes.

“According the information at hand, the security measures in place at the company, as well as crew training, we believe the planes are safe. This decision will have limited short term effects on the company as it only involves 3 out of the 33 passenger jets in the company’s fleet, and thus the company has leeway to react in the coming weeks,” read part of Icelandair’s report.

Icelandair has ordered 16 of the plane types in total but has three in their fleet at this point in time. Boeing 737 Max planes were first put into use in 2016. There are 350 Max 8 planes in use in the world, out of a total 5,011 ordered. A small number of Boeing 737 Max 9’s are operating, while the Max 7 and Max 10 models are expected to arrive in the next few years.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 planes have come under scrutiny following the plane crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines. All 157 passenger lost their lives in the crash, which was the second crash in five months of a 737 Max 8 plane, as a Lion Air plane crash five months. Both of the planes crashed shortly after taking off.

Icelandair had previously stated that it will not ground the aircraft, as the reasons for the Ethiopian airlines crash were not clear.

CEO comments

Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason stated that the United Kingdom’s decision to ground the aircraft type in their airspace was a key factor in Icelandair’s decision. “We have full belief in this aircraft and expect that they will be put to great use in our route system in the future,” Bogi stated. He says that Icelandair can keep them grounded for the remainder of March without great troubles. It is planned that Icelandair will add three Max 8 aircraft as well as three Max 9 to its fleet this summer, bringing the total amount of Max 8 in their fleet to six.

Passengers who had booked a flight with to London were supposed to travel in a Max 8 aircraft but were transferred to a Boeing 757.