Icelandair Set To Operate Mammoth Boeing 767 Flight To China

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Icelandair is set to take one of its Boeing 767s on a mega journey, all the way to Shanghai in China. The flight will operate today, April 8th, and is being undertaken in order to bring back much needed medical supplies for the nation. Overall, the 767 will transport an estimated 17 tons of products back to the island nation.

Icelandair 767
Icelandair is taking its Boeing 767 to Shanghai. Photo: Getty Images

Icelandair’s Asia trip

Flag carrying airlines Icelandair is setting off on what looks to be its longest-ever flight. The island-based carrier is heading to China, to collect vital medical supplies for its communities. The almost 10,000 nmi round trip will be undertaken by one of the airline’s Boeing 767s.

Icelandair has just four Boeing 767-300ERs in service, two of which are noted to be parked up. By process of elimination, we’ve spotted that the aircraft being used for this trip is TF-ISW, a 22-year-old Boeing 767-300ER which previously operated for Air New Zealand, before joining the Icelandair fleet in October 2016.

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The flight is expected to land in around seven hours. Photo: FlightRadar24

According to FlightRadar24.com, the plane took off at 10:01 this morning, local time. It is expected to land at around 04:08 Shanghai time, giving a total trip time of around 10 hours. At the time of writing, the aircraft is just entering Russian airspace over Finland, and has more than seven hours of flying left ahead of it.

Local publication Vidskiptabladid shared news of the flight, stating that the aircraft will spend around four hours on the ground in Shanghai before heading back to Iceland. It says that a crew of 11 people will be on board, including six pilots to allow for direct flights there and back without any layover. Three loadmasters and two engineers will also be on board.

The longest flight?

According to GCMaps, this flight between Keflavik Airport and Shanghai (PVG) is around 4,863 nautical miles. That’s well within the reach of the Boeing 767-300ER, which has a published range of 5,980 nmi. It is thought to be the longest nonstop flight in the 80 year history of the airline.

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The great circle distance is just under 5,000 nmi each way. Image: GCMaps

It’s not Icelandair’s first unusual mission in recent weeks, however. On the 20th March, the airline aided in the repatriation of around 260 stranded Germans from Mexico. The passengers had been on a cruise ship in the area, but the trip was cut short as the coronavirus took hold.

Over the past weeks, we’ve seen a number of unusual and remarkable flights as airlines travel outside their normal zones of operations to transport cargo and repatriate stranded citizens. SAS flew its A350 all the way to Lima in Peru last week, while SWISS operated its longest flight in history at the end of March, flying a 777 to Chile to retrieve Swiss nationals.

British Airways 777 repatriation
British Airways sent three Boeing 777s to Havana to repatriate stranded travelers from the cruise ship MS Braemar. Photo: Getty Images

British Airways flew three 777 in convoy to Havana to repatriate stranded cruise ship passengers, while Lufthansa is gearing up to send five A380s and five 747s to New Zealand this week.

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As well as repatriation flights, we’ve seen a number of airlines stepping out of their comfort zones to ensure a steady supply of cargo and medical equipment to their home nations. Perhaps the most remarkable of these is Aer Lingus, who is using 10 A330s to fly five times a day between Dublin and China, bringing back vital PPE and coronavirus testing kits on every flight.

What do you make of these unusual flights? Heard of any others? Let us know in the comments.

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