Controversial Boeing 737 MAX jets allowed land at Shannon

The first of two Icelandair Boeing 737 MAX jets departs from Shannon – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

An airline has been allowed fly two Boeing 737-MAX-8 aircraft into Irish airspace and land at Shannon Airport on their way to Spain for storage.

The Boeing 737-MAX-8 and 9 series jets were grounded worldwide last March following two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in October 2018 and March 2019 respectively.

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A total of 346 people died in the crashes including Irish man Michael Ryan who was killed in the Ethiopian tragedy.

While the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) does not comment on individual cases, the IAA has confirmed that applications to ferry the controversial jet into and through Irish airspace are being accepted.

On 12th March 2019, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) suspended Boeing Max aircraft entering Irish airspace and such Irish registered Boeing Max aircraft from flying wherever located.

In the meantime, Boeing has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737-MAX jet including updates to the plane’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) which has been implicated in the two fatal crashes.

Today, two Icelandair Boeing 737-MAX-8 were ferried from Reykjavik via Shannon to Lleida in Spain where they are expected to remain in storage for the winter months.

The planes had to fly under strict conditions including at significantly lower altitudes and speed and, reportedly, with flaps extended. The jets flew at an altitude of 19,000ft when the would normally travel at heights considerably higher than that.

Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

The IAA has confirmed: “Applications for ferry flights of aircraft into Irish airspace and by Irish registered aircraft are now being accepted. With regard to Icelandair, we do not comment on individual flight permit applications and their details are treated confidentially.”

The spokesman added: “The IAA has closely monitored developments since then, and the on-going reviews have included engagement with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), Boeing, other competent authorities and industry.

Following this constructive and detailed engagement, the IAA on the 23rd August reviewed its position to enable consideration of applications to permit ferry flights in accordance with EASA’s flight conditions.”

“The operation of the aircraft in the manner required by EASA for ferry flights does not give rise to the operational issues which are suspected to have caused the two accidents, and for that reason, the IAA was in a position to amend its direction,” the spokesman confirmed.

“The suspension of operations for commercial operations of all variants of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Irish airspace remains in place. The IAA continues to work closely with EASA, the FAA and the manufacturer Boeing with regard to any potential alterations to this suspension,” the spokesman added.

Air Canada operated the MAX series jet from Shannon last year – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2018


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