A Norwegian Boeing 737 Max 8, flying Dubai (DXB) to Oslo (OSL), has had to make an overnight pitstop in Iran!
The jet took off from Dubai last night on a normal flight back to Norway, when the 2-month-old plane experience engine trouble. It had to perform an emergency descent from 32,000 feet to land at Shiraz International Airport, Iran.
They had to circle many times to burn/dump fuel and shut down one of their engines.
This whole affair is news as Iran is currently sanctioned by the United States, and thus, has never even seen the new Boeing 787 Max 8. And to have an American engineering marvel land right into their hands is rather embarrassing.
This is also the first time that Norwegian has ever landed in the country, they do not have any regular services or contacts in the country (apart from having permission to fly through their airspace, like the other 900 other planes do every day).
“Due to a technical issue, flight DY1933 from Dubai to Oslo, was forced to divert to Shiraz International Airport. The aircraft landed normally and taxied to a gate allowing passengers to disembark. The safety of our passengers and crew is always our number one priority. All passengers have been accommodated in a hotel near the airport. A Norwegian relief aircraft has arrived, and after mandatory crew rest, it will bring all passengers to Oslo tomorrow morning. Norwegian apologizes for any inconvenience caused.” – Norwegian Statement
Why is this a problem for Norwegian?
There are several cultural problems that need to be addressed by Norwegian, which many of the passengers might not have been prepared for:
- Women on board the Norwegian flight would have had to cover their hair before disembarking.
- Alcoholic beverages are also banned in the country and would have to be stowed away in the cargo hold under lock and key.
- This also includes flight crew, who would not have headscarves as part of their uniform and will not be able to be seen publicly.
- The passengers have now officially entered Iran, and no longer are allowed to enter the US under the visa waiver program. This means if any of them are flying onwards from Oslo to New York (which many are) they have to go to a US embassy and ask for permission. They might have to do it for the rest of their lives.
On today’s diverted Norwegian Air 737 MAX 8, passengers and crew are being kept in a dedicated area (airside) of Shiraz International Airport terminal, given female passengers and crew are not able to adhere to Iranian law, with regards to the headscarves.
Norwegian has had to put the passengers up in a nearby hotel and send another plane to return the passengers home in the morning.
Wait, what about the stranded plane?
This is where the headache gets a little worse for Norwegian. In any other airport that has regular Boeing flights, there would be a mechanic who would be super familiar with the new Boeing 787 Max 8. But in Iran (and other countries like North Korea), they simply would not have access to schematics on how to fix the plane, and their knowledge may be out of date.
It is even illegal for the mechanics to get in spare parts, due to the sanctions, and many of the Iranian planes are often being held together by junk or custom made materials. Whilst you can be 100% confident that your plane is up to code elsewhere in the world (and why flying is one of the safest ways to fly) in Iran it is a little different.
The Iran spare parts market is worth around $38 billion dollars to Airbus and Boeing.
Importing spare parts for existing Airbus and Boeing aircraft in Iran is now forbidden, as anything with 10% or more US technology content requires US licences.
Special arrangements can be made, but it is an authorization that needs to go right to the top of the US government. Yes, right to the men (and women) who put the pressure on Iran in the first place. Until then, the plane will be trapped on the tarmac.
Global politics aside, I personally think Iran is a wonderful country full of friendly people, great architecture and a vivid landscape. But I would choose to fly there myself, rather than make an emergency landing overnight.
What do you think of this developing story? Let us know in the comments.