Boeing 737 MAX-8 Flights Postponed due to Extra Security Measures

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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.

Strict conditions
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.

Icelandair’s Boeing 737 MAX-8s to Fly to France

Icelandair’s Boeing 737 MAX-8 planes, grounded last year after two crashes involving the same model in Ethiopia and Indonesia, will be flown to France for storage this week. Þórarinn Hjálmarsson, one of the four pilots assigned to the task, told Vísir there’s nothing to fear on the flights. Strict conditions must be met to fly the planes across Europe.

The five MAX-8 planes will be kept in Toulouse, France, in order to protect them from wear and tear caused by harsher weather conditions at Keflavík Airport. The pilots 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.

Þórarinn has full faith in the MAX-8 jets, and says he hopes they will go into commercial use next year. “I would take my whole family on a flight like this,” Þórarinn remarked.

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.