Air France A350 Returns To Paris Amid Reports Center Of Gravity Shifted

An Air France Airbus A350 flying from Paris to Seoul returned to its origin on Tuesday. According to passengers on board the flight, it seems as though a loose container moved in the cargo hold after the aircraft experienced some turbulence.

Air France, Airbus A350, Center Of Gravity
An Air France A350 was forced to return to Paris on Tuesday. Photo: Air France

On Tuesday an Air France flight operated by an Airbus A350 was forced to return to Paris just as it passed Helsinki. While annoying for the passengers on board the flight, this isn’t the worst flight to nowhere to be endured by passengers on an Air France-KLM Aircraft. In fact, last year a Boeing 747 heading to Mexico flew all the way to Canada before turning back to Amsterdam.

Tuesday’s flight

So what exactly happened on Tuesday? Let’s start with what we know from flight records. According to data from, the aircraft operating flight AF264 was due to fly from Paris to Seoul. The aircraft had been due to depart from Paris at 13:10. Following its transcontinental voyage, the aircraft was due to arrive in Seoul at 08:10 the next morning.

Air France, Airbus A350, Center Of Gravity
A passenger caught the moment the aircraft turned to return to Paris. Photo: MD – Used With Permission

Tuesday’s flight was operated by F-HTYB, an aircraft delivered to Air France back in November. However, Air France received its very first Airbus A350 just two months prior in September. While the flight was due to get airborne at 13:10, it actually got a slight headstart getting airborne at around 13:00.

Around two hours into the flight, the aircraft was flying overhead Estonia abeam Helsinki and Tallinn when it began to turn back towards Paris. A tweet at the time from appeared to suggest that there was a non-emergency technical issue.

Shifting cargo containers?

Simple Flying spoke to a passenger onboard the aircraft who wishes to remain anonymous. They told us:

“There was a cargo shift in turbulence many of the LD3 containers in the hold were not secured. That lead to a CG shift in flight resulting in the decision. As to why we didnt end up in Helsinki, they wanted Air France crews to resolve it”

Air France, Airbus A350, Center Of Gravity
The aircraft flew to Estonia and back. Photo: Flight

Simple Flying contacted Air France for comment. A spokesperson told us:

“Air France confirms that due to a technical problem, the crew of flight AF264 from Paris (CDG) to Seoul (ICN) on 03 March 2020 decided to return to Paris-Charles de Gaulle. Company staff assisted customers and made arrangements for their accommodation.  Air France apologizes for the inconvenience caused by this situation. For Air France, the safety of its passengers and flight crews is its absolute priority.”

According to, once the aircraft had turned back towards Paris, it climbed slightly from 37,000 feet to 40,000 feet. It then touched down a further two and a half hours after turning back. This gives a rough total flight time of around four and a half hours. Passengers were rebooked onto alternative flights.

Were you onboard Air France flight 264 on Tuesday? What are your thoughts on the incident? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.