In the wake of the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft following two recent crashes, the airline which had been flying the MAX 8 into New York Stewart International Airport has switched to a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Norwegian Air is operating the larger airplane on a temporary, daily basis between Stewart Airport in New Windsor and Dublin Airport in Ireland. Boeing 787 aircraft usually are configured with from 242 to 338 passenger seats, whereas the MAX 8 typically is configured with 138 to 230 passenger seats.
Various countries started grounding their fleets of Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes shortly after the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 near Addis Ababa. All 157 on board were killed. The flight crew is said to have reported control problems shortly before the crash.
The FAA on March 13 announced that all Boeing 737 MAX 8’s operated by U.S. airlines are grounded until further notice following completion of any flights which were then in progress. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have joined with Ethiopian authorities in the accident investigation. There were some Americans on board the flight. The airplane’s manufacturer, Boeing, is a U.S. company. In addition, experts from the NTSB traveled to France to work with investigators there on the recovery of data from the airplane’s cockpit voice and flight data recorders.
It is suspected that a system designed to keep the MAX 8 flying within a safe performance envelope can malfunction when the airplane is climbing and the wing flaps have been retracted. That seemed to be what happened when a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 crashed off the Indonesian coast on Oct. 29. Investigators have yet to determine the probable causes of the MAX 8 accidents.
The main runway at Stewart Airport is 11,817 feet long by 150 feet wide, oriented east/west, and is about twice the length needed for Dreamliners. Norwegian is operating Dreamliner aircraft with a 338-seat configuration, 282 in economy and 56 in premium. Its MAX 8 aircraft use a 189-seat configuration. The airline pointed out that the 787 Dreamliner being used on the route between Stewart and Dublin has an image of aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh painted on its tail.
“What happens next is in the hands of European aviation authorities, but we hope and expect that our MAXs will be airborne soon,” Bjorn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian Air Shuttle, said. He also said he expects to try to recover some of the airline’s losses due to having to ground its MAX 8 aircraft from Boeing. “Our customers are, of course, our main priority now,” he said.
Norwegian also had been flying overseas from the T. F. Green Airport in Providence, Rhode Island. Without the ability to fly MAX 8 aircraft into Providence, Norwegian set up a program to bus passengers between Providence and Stewart because they can easily be accommodated on the larger 787 aircraft.