Iceland’s first wide-bodied jet, a DC-10 30, landed at Keflavík Airport on 5 January 1979. Icelandair negotiated a very favourable lease-purchase plan to acquire this 380-seat plane. But it turned out to be something of a nightmare transaction. The pilots’ continuing dispute about new contract terms was at its height, and no agreement was reached about who would fly the new jet. American pilots were initially employed to fly it.
But matters took a turn for the worse when a jet of this type crashed on takeoff from O'Hare Airport, Chicago, in June 1979. The engine had broken loose, and all DC-10 aircraft were grounded until investigations were completed. The grounding was for a longer period in the USA, where Icelandair’s plane was registered. It stood unused for eight months over the busiest period of the year. The jet had been scheduled to transport passengers over the North Atlantic that summer, and Icelandair had to lease jets in order to meet its obligations. This placed a heavy financial burden on the company. Icelandair sold this wide-bodied jet in 1980, and Icelanders had to wait for several years before they acquired their next plane of a comparable size.