For several months, six Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 jets have been parked at Twente Airport that can no longer leave, due to a problem with a safety certificate. A solution has now been found: the airport will receive a one-off exemption so that the aircraft are allowed to leave.
According to the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT), the airport must comply with a number of specifications in the safety protocols that apply to heavy aircraft such as the Boeing 747. The aircraft must, for example, be as light as possible on departure, and therefore have to take little fuel with them.
The story started this spring. Airport Twente, which specialises in dismantling old aircraft, thought it had secured a nice deal in June. The airport was asked by Lufthansa to temporarily store six Boeing 747-400s. Due to the corona crisis, the German company had to shrink its fleet considerably. The jets landed on the runway in June and July.
Twente Airport expected the 747s to remain there for a long time, perhaps more than a year, and hoped to be able to dismantle them as well. But Lufthansa, still the owner, had other plans. The company sold at least three of the aircraft to the American aircraft recycler GE Aviation Materials. The first jumbo jet should have left for the US on Monday, reports the German aircraft site Aerotelegraph.
But the aircraft were not allowed to leave. According to the ILT, Twente Airport only has a permit to land Boeing 747s and have them dismantled on site. According to the ILT, the runway does not have the infrastructure to allow very heavy aircraft such as the 747 to take off.
According to the inspection, no licence had been requested for the first two Lufthansa aircraft – it was later cleared up because it only involved paperwork. And even before the landing of the last four jets, there was a warning that there would be no question of departure, says ILT.
Now that there is an agreement between the parties, the first aircraft can take off in the short term. Two others will leave before the end of the year. The last three are scheduled to leave Twente Airport by the end of June 2021.