Icelandair’s 737 MAX 8s have taken to the skies again, on a ferry flight bound for Northern Spain. Although it was originally reported by the airline that the aircraft would be moved to Toulouse, it appears the storage location has been changed at the last minute.
Two MAX 8s so far have left Iceland. As they are flying low and slow with flaps out, they need to stop off in Shannon (SNN) Ireland for refueling. Only the airline’s five MAX 8s are cleared for flights. Their one MAX 9 is still in Iceland, and the airline is working to get the necessary permissions to move that aircraft also.
Icelandair’s MAX take flight
This morning, Icelandair began the first of its ferry flights to Lleida. Two 737 MAX 8s have left Iceland bound for northern Spain to escape the cold, damp conditions of Iceland in the winter. Keeping them in the drier, warmer location of Lleida will help protect sensitive components over the cold season.
TF-ICN was the first to leave Iceland, departing from Keflavik Airport at 09:06 this morning. It flew of special flight number F18738 and touched down safely at Shannon Airport at 11:50. According to Planespotters, this is a 0.7 year old 737 MAX 8. The ferry flight is its only flight aside from customer acceptance and delivery flights.
TF-ICO followed on later, leaving around an hour and a half after the first 737 MAX. FlightRadar24 has it taking off at 10:31 from Keflavik and should arrive in Shannon within the next hour. It is traveling on special flight number F18736. It too had only completed a delivery flight prior to this ferry flight.
Looking at the flight data, both aircraft are being flown at a much lower altitude and speed than would normally be expected. For both flights, the aircraft are traveling at 19,000ft and are cruising at around 310 miles per hour. Usually, the aircraft would be at around 35,000ft and traveling at around 600 miles per hour.
The reason for this is that both aircraft must be flown with flaps out. This will prevent the MCAS software from kicking in, thought to have been the cause of the two previous fatal accidents. Jens Þórðarson, managing director of Icelandair’s operations, told Visir that they were confident the trip would be safe,
“We are not doing anything we don’t think is safe. The machines have performed very well with us as has been stated. But in addition, there are very detailed conditions that such flights must fulfil. These include speed, flight altitude and other settings that should prevent the systems considered to be involved in these accidents from occurring. “
Where are they now?
At the time of writing, TF-ICN has just taken off for Northern Spain. The aircraft left Shannon at 14:08 and is scheduled to arrive in Lleida just after 17:00. It looks to be taking a wide route away from UK and French airspace.
TF-ICO is currently on route, but is in a segment of the North Atlantic which is not covered by Flight Radar 24. Going on the time it took the first MAX to touchdown at Shannon, we would expect the second to arrive within the hour.
It is not yet known when the other three 737 MAX 8s will be ferried. The gap between the first and second MAX launches from Iceland was an hour and a half. Therefore, if a similar gap were to be made between the second and third, a third would have taken off by now.
It’s possible they will be doing ferry flights over a couple of days. Simple Flying will keep an eye on proceedings and update this post as more is known.