Icelandair Boeing 757 Returns To Keflavik With Faulty Navigation Equipment

An Icelandair Boing 757 has had to return to Keflavik after reporting a fault with its navigation system.

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Icelandair 757 had to return to Iceland after a navigation system failure. Photo: Icelandair

Icelandair flight number FI-681 (Friday, August 9th) on route from Reykjavik to Seattle was cruising at 34,000 feet. It was 110 nautical miles north of Kulusuk, Greenland when the Boeing 757-200 suffered navigational problems.

Both the LNAV and VNAV navigational systems failed, forcing the crew to turn the aircraft around and head back to Iceland. For the return journey, the aircraft descended to 33,000 feet before entering a holding pattern at 1,000 feet. It landed safely on Keflavik’s runway 01.

Icelandair Boeing 757 Returns To Keflavik With Faulty Navigation Equipment
You can see where the 757 went into a holding pattern. Image: Flightradar24

According to the Aviation Herald, flight number Fl-681 landed back in Iceland two hours and 50 minutes after having decided to turn around. Once the mechanics were able to take a look at the aircraft, the left-hand FMS was replaced and the navigation database reloaded.

The aircraft returned to service the following day on the same route.

Why the Iceland to Seattle route makes sense

Initially, I could not figure out how a Keflavik to Seattle route could be successful for Icelandair.

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Seattle to Iceland takes around seven hours on a 757. Photo: Wikimedia

Surely there were not that many people in the Seattle/Tacoma area who wanted to vacation in Iceland. Given Iceland’s small population, Icelanders wanting to travel to the great Northwest didn’t make sense either.

Then the penny dropped! People in Washington State were using Iceland as a stopover when flying to other parts of Europe.

Flying to Europe from Seattle is a long trip

Flying from the west coast of the United States to Europe is a long trip no matter which way you look at it.

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Iceland is a great place for a stopover. Photo: Wikimedia

So with that in mind why not break the journey up with a stopover in Iceland?

The direct overnight flight from Seattle to Keflavik is over Canada and Greenland and takes about seven hours. For first-timers attracted by Icelandair’s reasonable fares, a transatlantic stopover in Iceland allows them to break up the journey and explore the unique country too.

Reykjavik is the most northerly capital city in Europe and is full of colorful buildings and creative, friendly people. Easily explored on foot, visitors can learn all about Iceland’s Viking past and its rich maritime history all in the same day.

Out in the countryside, Iceland is an incredible place to explore with active volcanoes, towering waterfalls, glaciers and, at special times of the year, the Northern Lights.

Icelandair needs to replace its aging aircraft

Icelandair’s fleet of 757s and 767s are getting a little long in the tooth, and while they have been good workhorses for the island nations airline, reports are suggesting they will be phased out of service. Icelandair currently operates three Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, but they are out of service following the worldwide grounding.

Given Icelandair’s commitment to Boeing aircraft, it will be interesting to see how things develop after the problems with the MAX. We’ll have to see whether or not they are committed to the other 13 737 MAX aircraft that are on order with the Seattle planemaker.

My guess, given the company’s history, is that they will stick with Boeing even though the Airbus A321LR would be an ideal replacement for the 757.

What do you think? Please let us know in the comments.