Nothing to fear
Icelandair’s five Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes will be flown to Toulouse, France for storage this week. Ironically, the southern French destination is the headquarters for Boeing arch-rival Airbus.
Iceland Review reports that Þórarinn Hjálmarsson is one of the four pilots assigned to the task. Hjálmarsson spoke with Icelandic media outlet Vísir, saying that there’s nothing to fear as he prepares to fly the banned aircraft. In fact, strict conditions must be met to fly the planes across Europe, says Hjálmarsson:
“We need to fly with the wing flaps out, as little as possible. We need to go at a lower speed and we need to be at a lower altitude than usual.”
Other 737 MAX storage destinations
Late last month, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) received an application from Singaporean airline SilkAir to fly its 737 MAX fleet out to a desert aircraft storage facility close to Alice Springs. The Australian Outback is an arid, dry, and expansive region – perfect for avoiding moisture that damages aircraft components.
American Airlines’ MAX aircraft have been in storage in Roswell, New Mexico – another arid region. However, these planes are on the move as American Airlines has started to ferry these aircraft to their maintenance facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The airline’s biggest maintenance base exists there, with over 5,000 employees ready to bring any of American’s fleet back online. The facility also has additional technologies that are not available in Roswell.
United has chosen to move all 14 of its Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft into long term storage in Goodyear, Arizona. Goodyear is located just outside of Phoenix. Again, this area has been selected for its incredibly dry air that allows aircraft to be stored ‘in-the-elements’ without receiving damage over time.
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Finally, Southwest Airlines has its jets at the Southern California Logistics Airport facility in Victorville, in the heart of the Mojave Desert.
As the 737 MAX re-certification process drags on, long-term aircraft storage facilities will continue to fill up. Boeing is even storing some of its aircraft in employee car parking lots. Its storage facilities in Washington are at capacity.
We’ve reached out to Icelandair for comment on this move. However, they have not responded to our enquiry yet. We will update this article if there is a response.