Canada Warns Of Airbus A220 Fuel Feed Issues

Transport Canada have issued a directive over the airworthiness of the new A220 aircraft. Formerly known as the Bombardier C series, it seems the aircraft may have a chafing issue in the fuel feed system. Operators have been asked to check their A220 fuel feed tubes.

Air Baltic A220
Could there be a problem with the A220? Photo: Victor via Flickr

The shiny new A220 that we were all so excited about has a problem. Identified in a recent service bulletin, the tubes which feed fuel to the engines could become ‘chaffed’ by a clamp. In the worst case situation, this could cause a stop in the fuel supply.

In response, Transport Canada have issued an airworthiness directive instructing all operators and owners of A220s to check their aircraft for the issue. Although to date only Transport Canada have issued a directive, it is likely other regulators will follow suit.

The directive

Transport Canada (TC) issued an airworthiness directive on May 13th which cited issues with the fuel feed tubes. They said that wear damage had occurred on ‘multiple airplanes’, in an area where a bonding clamp connects the fuel feed tubes. The regulator was quoted by MRO Network as saying:

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“In one incident, the wear damage ultimately led to a hole in the main engine feed tube located in the collector tank, resulting in fuel imbalance during flight. Worst-case, such wear could cut fuel flow to engines.”

The directive was issued based on a service bulletin issued in March by C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership – that’s the joint venture between Airbus and Bombardier which produces and supports the A220. The TC directive has been issued to cover all A220-100s and -300s too.

Delta A220
Operators of all variants of the A220 will need to make the checks. Photo: Delta

Operators are instructed to check the feed tubes from both fuel tanks within 1,800 flight hours of the effective date of the directive – 27th May 2019. They have also instructed additional checks to be performed every 1,800 flying hours.

What is an airworthiness directive?

An airworthiness directive (AD) is a notification to those who own or operate a particular certified aircraft that a safety issue has been found. Owners and operators of the type who have not complied with the AD should not fly the plane. Until the fault is remedied, the model is not considered airworthy.

On the Transport Canada website, this is described as:

“Pursuant to CAR 605.84, aircraft owners are responsible for ensuring that their aircraft are not flown with any ADs outstanding against that aircraft, its engines, propellers and other items of equipment.”

In plain English, this means that unless checks and remedial works have been carried out, the A220 is not permitted to fly in Canadian airspace.

The impact on the A220

While no Canadian operators currently have any A220s, the impact initially is likely to be minimal. However, it would affect operators who want to fly from elsewhere to Canada with the A220, and it’s likely that other regulators will follow the lead of TC and issue their own AD in the coming days.

So far, according to Wikipedia, 65 A220s have been delivered worldwide. The majority of these are in Europe, with Lufthansa group taking eight A220-100s and 20 A220-300s for Swiss International Air Lines.

Swiss A220
Lufthansa have 28 A220s operated by Swiss. Photo: Markus Eigenheer via Flickr

As well as Lufthansa, airBaltic have 17 A220-300s in operation and Korean Air have 10. The only North American operator of the A220 so far is Delta, who have nine A220-100s in service. Air Canada have 45 A220-300s on order but have not taken any deliveries yet.

At this time, the overall impact on the A220 is likely to be relatively minimal. As the problem has been identified early in the delivery process, those expecting deliveries of the A220 in future will receive them with the problem already corrected.

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