SAS Boeing 737-800 Diverts Over Computer Fan Error Messages

A Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) Boeing 737-800 had to return to Oslo on Friday, August 14, 2020, after several aircraft computer fans started showing error messages. SAS flight number SK-4490 was cruising at 37,000 en route from Oslo to Longyearbyen in the arctic circle when 30 nautical miles southeast of Trondheim, several of the plane’s computer fans started sending unusual error messages.

SAS Boeing 737 Getty
The aircraft returned to Olso after computer fan error messages. Photo: Getty Images

Erring on the side of caution, the crew decided to turn the aircraft around and return to Oslo. The 18-year-old aircraft registration number LN-RRT landed safely back at Oslo Gardermoen Airport (OSL) some 65 minutes after departure. A replacement Boeing 737-800 was brought in to take the passengers to Spitsbergen Island and landed at Svalbard Airport (LYR) with a delay of 2:15 hours.

Svalbard had no technicians

According to The Aviation Herald, after returning to Oslo, the aircraft in question was still on the ground 11 hours later. When asked why the plane returned to Oslo rather than carry on to Longyearbyen, SAS said that the aircraft would have become stuck at Svalbard Airport as they had no technicians based there to diagnose the error messages. It was for this reason only that the decision was made to return to the Norwegian capital.

SAS Tweaks rescue plan

In other SAS related news, the airline said on Friday that its owners had agreed to a revised rescue plan after changes were made to appease holders of the company’s debt. In June, SAS agreed to a 14 billion Swedish Krona ($1.6 billion) plan backed by Sweden and Denmark to help the airline weather the downturn in business brought on by the coronavirus crisis. Sweden and Denmark both put conditions attached to unlocking the money, which required debtholders to agree to an equity swap.

SAS Boeing 737-800 Diverts Over Computer Fan Error Messages
Before turning around, the aircraft was heading to Longyearbyen in the arctic circle. Image: Flightradar24

The Stockholm-based airline said that the revised plan also had the backing of its third-largest shareholder, the Knut, and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The proposal now needs to be approved at a shareholder meeting scheduled for around September 22.  According to news service, Reuters SAS had this to say about the revised deal.

“The future of SAS depends on a successful outcome of the revised recapitalization plan, as well as delivery on four billion crowns in efficiency improvements,” SAS chairman Carsten Dilling said.

“The board strongly encourages bond, hybrid, and shareholders to vote in favor of the proposals…as there are no other available alternatives.”

A spokeswoman for SAS said that the airline had made no changes to the plan that it had announced on August 7, requiring approval from shareholders at a meeting scheduled for sometime around September 22.

Some airlines will not survive

Like all airlines worldwide, SAS has to adapt to the reality of life during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we saw yesterday, the United Kingdom imposed a 14-day quarantine on people arriving from France, Malta, and the Netherlands. Airlines typically need to plan months in advance, and yet here they are making scheduling decisions daily.

SAS Tech
No technicians were available at Svalbard Airport. Photo: SAS

Fortunately, SAS has the backing of the Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish governments, so it is in no danger of collapse. Other airlines may not be so lucky.

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