It has been three weeks since the Norwegian 737 performed an emergency landing in Iran and as a result, found itself grounded in a country that has been cut off from the world.
Engineers sent to recover the plane have discovered that they don’t have and cannot acquire the parts to get it airborne again. This means Norwegian is down a jet and there is nothing they can do to recover it.
If you missed our earlier article on the subject, we will give you a brief summary.
Back in December last year, a Norwegian 737 was flying from Dubai to Norway when it encountered some mechanical problems. The plane was still flying fine, but the pilots rightly decided to land at the nearest airport to find out what was wrong.
Unfortunately, the nearest airport turned out to be the town of Shiraz in Iran.
This resulted in a few unexpected problems.
- Passengers and crew onboard did not have the right to enter Iran and would have to be processed upon landing.
- Few onboard spoke the local language.
- Norwegian Air Shuttle (the airline) does not have any presence in the country and had to scramble to offer official support to their plane.
- There were several cultural differences. Female passengers and crew had to cover themselves upon exiting the aircraft, and other passengers had to be isolated.
- A local hotel had to be arranged for the passengers to wait in overnight.
- As the passengers do not have a visa to enter the country, they would have to be subjected to strict controls and forbidden to move on their own accord.
Naturally, many of these issues would be easily solved if this country was any other. However, Iran is suffering from a political issue with the United States. This means that anyone who has visited Iran recently is no longer allowed to apply for the America Visa Waiver Program, a special service that allows trusted foreign nationals to quickly apply for a 3-month visa to visit the USA. Now all these passengers in the future will have to apply for a visa at a US embassy.
But, after all the commotion, a replacement plane arrived and whisked all the passengers and crew away.
Why can’t they fix the broken 737?
Iran is currently embargoed by the US and thus no US company is allowed to have business, trade or presence in the country. Businesses like Boeing, who happens to be the only company that can provide the spare parts for the plane.
Thus the Norwegian Engineers who arrived on Friday can’t really do anything until a special case is made for this one jet. Permission needs to be sought from the US federal government, who as you may know, is currently shut down due to budget issues.
“I can only say that we are working with several options to get the plane back on the wings, and right now we are waiting for our technicians to be able to service the plane and to get it working.” – Norwegian Spokesperson
It is possible that Norwegian could acquire the spare parts from another plane, but this would mean that they would have two planes out of action. The last resort idea that the on-the-brink airline does not want to consider.
What do you think? Do you know a solution to rescue this plane?