Swiss inspects Airbus A220 jets as engine snag prompts grounding

  • World
  • Wednesday, 16 Oct 2019

FRANKFURT, Gernamany (Bloomberg): Deutsche Lufthansa AG's Swiss airline grounded its fleet of Airbus SE A220 jets after a "serious" engine problem forced a London-Geneva flight to land in Paris.

The carrier, the world's biggest operator of the narrow-body aircraft, said it cancelled about 100 flights Tuesday (Oct 15) in order to carry out inspections of the Pratt & Whitney engines. Some A220s have returned to flight following successful checks, and full operations are expected to resume on Thursday (Oct 17), Swiss said in a statement.

The incident marked yet another headache for the airline, which has 29 of the new planes in its fleet.

A July 25 Swiss flight from Geneva to London experienced engine failure after part of the turbine disintegrated over Paris, while one from Zurich to Dusseldorf had to turn around earlier the same month because of a turbine problem.

The engine, known as the geared turbofan, has had a series of teething problems, including a 2014 failure when an engine caught fire during testing of the A220, a plane that was formerly known as the Bombardier Inc. C Series.

The turbine also powers some of Airbus's best-selling A320 family jets.

France's safety authority, the Bureau d'Enquetes et d'Analyses, called the latest event concerning the Pratt engine "serious" and said an investigation has been turned over to the National Transport Safety Board in the United States.

Swiss said it's talking with regulators, Pratt and Airbus about the issues.

Pratt, a division of Farmington, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp., recommended operators conduct additional inspections, though the engines "continue to meet all criteria for continued airworthiness," it said in a statement. Airbus said separately that it's supporting customers as needed.

As of Sept. 30, Airbus had delivered 20 A220-300 models to Swiss, as well as nine of the smaller A220-100 variants. Airbus acquired control of the A220 program from Montreal-based Bombardier last year.

Another variant of Pratt's geared turbofan is also used on the Embraer SA E195-E2, the first of which was just delivered last month to Azul and AerCap.

Other large A220 operators are Air Baltic, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Korean Air Lines Co.

Delta will "always meet or exceed safety, inspection and maintenance recommendations from manufacturers" and regulators, the airline said via email. Air Baltic said it continues to operate its A220 fleet while remaining in close contact with Pratt and Airbus. – Bloomberg

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