Almost two and a half months after it landed at Shiraz in Iran, an almost-new Boeing 737-8MAX LN-BKE is on its way back to Norway. The aircraft diverted to Shiraz on December 14, 2018 due to low oil pressure indications coming from one of its CFM International LEAP-1B engines. This forced an in-flight shut down which, by procedure, required a diversion to the nearest suitable airfield. The passengers were recovered the following day, but then Norwegian Air Shuttle became bogged down by the bureaucracy associated with getting high-technology replacement parts into the country.
Problems arose because a license issued by the US Government is required to export products that comprise more than 10% US technology into Iran.
A Norwegian 737-8MAX similar to this one has been stuck in Iran for almost ten weeks. (Edward Russell)
The airline says that paperwork took longer than expected to complete, partly because it had to familiarize itself with the regulations relating to Iran; the 35-day government shutdown in Washington is unlikely to have helped either.
However, progress has now been made. A spokesman for Norwegian said: "We are in the process of having a new engine flown to Iran for our Boeing 737 MAX within the next few days." The aircraft finally took off on February 22 as NAX8921 and according to Flightradar23 was bound for Stockholm Arlanda.
On December 31, The Aviation Oracle asked whether the sanctions might result in aircrew facing pressure to avoid diverting to Iranian airports: Sanctions compromising safety? At that time it seemed unlikely the $100m jet would be stranded for more than ten weeks. While safety is always paramount, it is possible that some airlines might discourage unscheduled landings in Iran to avoid getting caught up in the issues Norwegian has faced.
Text © The Aviation Oracle