A 737 MAX 8 ferry flight was denied the right to fly over Germany, forcing an unplanned landing in France for refueling.
As mandatory worldwide groundings continue for the troubled 737 MAX 8, Norwegian is attempting to consolidate its fleet in Stockholm. When the ban came down, many 737s were left scattered at airports around the region. This particular 737 MAX 8 had been parked in Málaga, Spain for months. Norwegian sent a pilot and first officer to bring it back, known as a ferry or repositioning flight.
But as the aircraft approached German airspace, German air traffic controllers denied permission for the plane to cross over into Germany, forcing the aircraft to circle at the French-German border while plotting an alternate route. It also forced a refueling stop in Châlons Vatry Airport (XCR).
Addressing the airspace denial, Norwegian said:
Just before entering German airspace both the German and French authorities sent a notice that prohibited repositioning flights of the Boeing 737 Max in their airspace.
Interesting that France is mentioned too, since the aircraft was in French airspace and eventually allowed to land in France. Perhaps the French were just not paying attention?
#737MAX 8 Norwegian (SE-RTB) stuck in Malaga, Spain for months, departed for a ferry flight (empty) to Stockholm on June 11th, without realising Germany wouldn’t allow it in its airspace and was forced to land in Paris-Vatry, France. pic.twitter.com/yIqLquJbAc
— Aero News Journal-Daily Civil Aviation News (@FlyingFreak73) June 13, 2019
The Deutsche Flugsicherung (German air traffic control) released a statement of its own saying its policy prohibiting 737 MAX aircraft from using German airspace was not new and well-published. Norwegian disputed this, “If we had received any contrary information, we obviously wouldn’t have taken off.”
The The European Aviation Safety Agency banned 737 MAX commercial flights from European Union airspace on March 12th. But each country was left to decide whether to allow repositioning flights over its own airspace.
Germany has taken the cautious approach.
By denying the 737 MAX 8 passage over German airspace, the risk of crash and carbon emissions were increased. Germany is free to protect its airspace as it sees fit, but this certainly seems like a bit of overkill. The Norwegian 737 MAX 8 did take off again and make it back to Stockholm in one piece.