An Air France Airbus A330 diverted to Gander following an engine shutdown. The aircraft was en route on flight AF-159 from Dallas Fort Worth to Charles de Gaulle when it encountered technical issues due to low oil pressure in the right-hand engine. The flight was diverted and touched down in Newfoundland on September 6th; at the time of publishing, it was still grounded pending repairs.
The Air France A330 with registration F-GZCF was around 517 miles northeast of Gander airport when the crew had to shut down the aircraft’s right-hand engine. The reason for the shutdown was low oil pressure in the General Electric CF6 high-bypass jet engine. This required flight AF-159 to divert to Gander airport for inspection and repair.
The loss of oil pressure in the engine is one of the causes of catastrophic engine failure and immediately necessitates emergency procedure to come into effect.
The crew issued the emergency PAN-PAN signal to indicate that no immediate danger was present to the aircraft. However, the urgency of the engine failure required the flight to be abandoned and a safe landing was achieved around 75 minutes after the decision was made to turn around.
Low oil pressure
The cause of the engine failure that led to the A330’s diversion was identified by the detection of low oil pressure in the engine. In general, the oil level of an aircraft is not monitored during a flight, and as such, any reduction is only realized when the pilot identifies low oil pressure in one or more of the engines.
The cause of low oil pressure can be due to a minor leak, where oil levels slowly drop to below critical level in the sump. This may cause air to be sucked into the engine, leading to the cease of optimal performance. One example of how low oil pressure can affect an engine is by depriving the engine bearings of the lubrication it requires to work effectively and safely.
The A330 has seen relatively few incidents in its history. In a similar incident in 2013, an A330 operated by China Airlines had to be diverted to Cairns en route from Sydney to Taipei.
In this instance an oil pump pipe was severed due to debris in the engine, causing an oil leak. This, in turn, led to the loss of oil pressure and a similar shutdown of the engine by the air crew.
Air France’s flight AF-159 diversion to Gander left passengers delayed, however, the route’s latest departure from Fort Worth is on track to land on time at Charles de Gaulle. The flight on 6th September was canceled, and all passengers affected should keep updated by Air France regarding compensation for the delay.
At the time of publishing, a representative has been unavailable for comment. Watch this space for an update on the situation.