Breaking update: 20:38 GMT
Norwegian’s Boeing 737: LN-BKE has taken off from Shiraz, Iran with the the flight number: DY8921. It is expect to arrive into Stockholm Arlanda at 3:03AM local time. This is brilliant news for Norwegian as the aircraft has not been operational and stuck for over 8 weeks.
The story before the plane left Iran:
Over two months after becoming stranded in Iran, it looks as though the B737 stranded in Iran may finally be on the move. This comes as Reuters reports an engine is expected to be flown to Iran within the next few days according to a Norwegian Source.
Back on December 14th, the B737 registered as LN-BKE, departed from Dubai bound for Oslo. Unfortunately, following an engine failure, the aircraft was forced to divert to Shiraz (SYZ). The problems worsened when Norwegian engineers discovered the problem wouldn’t be a simple fix.
Why is The Aircraft Still Grounded?
Following the diversion, Norwegian rescued the passengers stranded in Iran on a replacement aircraft the next day. Additionally, Norwegian engineers were dispatched to the aircraft to look at repairing the aircraft. Upon arrival, the engineers discovered that the engine was in fact beyond what they could repair.
Usually, a replacement engine would just be shipped to the stranded aircraft’s location, however, in this incident, diplomatic tensions delayed proceedings. Iran is currently under sanctions placed by the United States of America. These state that civilian aircraft sales which include parts, and service are forbidden.
Additionally, any products that contain 10% or more of parts which originate in the United States require a permit to export to Iran. Unfortunately, this includes the engine required by Norwegian. Shortly after the aircraft became stranded, the US Government Shutdown commenced. This made it almost impossible for Norwegian to gain the paperwork needed to export a B737 MAX engine to Iran.
Progress Being Made
It appears as though concrete progress is being made. On Wednesday a Norwegian Spokesperson told Reuters: “We are in the process of having a new engine flown to Iran for our Boeing 737 MAX within the next few days. It is too early to say exactly when the aircraft will be airborne, but our goal is to fly the aircraft back to Scandinavia within the next week.”
It is unclear whether this engine has arrived in Shiraz at the present moment in time. Simple Flying has contacted Norwegian to clarify this. If the new engine has indeed arrived in Shiraz, it will likely be a case of simply removing the old engine, and replacing it with the new one. Additionally, Norwegian would possibly conduct a test flight of the aircraft with the new engine. This short test flight could, however, take place to a different airport such as Doha where further assistance would be easier to secure.
At the start of the month, photos taken in Shiraz appeared to show maintenance taking place on the B737, however, Norwegian later confirmed that this was not, in fact, the case. At the time they commented: “Repairs haven’t begun yet – we are still waiting for the paperwork to get sorted”.
Do you think the stranded B737 is finally on the road to recovery? Let us know in the comments down below!