airBaltic operates a fleet of 20 Airbus A220-300 aircraft. In the first two years of the aircraft’s operation, the airline replaced 50 engines. Having just 13 aircraft in that period means that almost every engine was replaced twice on average.
Yesterday, SWISS grounded its entire fleet of Airbus A220 aircraft pending detailed engine checks. The flag carrier of Switzerland encountered a third serious engine issue in the space of four months. As a result, the carrier decided that none of its A220 aircraft were to fly until detailed checks had been undertaken. While this led to a number of flight cancellations, the first A220s have already been checked and re-entered service.
Other A220 operators
Although SWISS has the largest fleet of A220 aircraft it isn’t the only operator of the type. In fact, Delta Air Lines, Korean Air, and airBaltic also have significant fleets. Respectively these operators fly 25, 10, and 20 of the aircraft each. While this is the Airbus A220-100 for Delta, the other two airlines operate the larger A220-300 variant.
50 engine replacements
Every now and again engine replacements are necessary on any aircraft, however, airBaltic has carried out 50 engine replacements for the A220 in the first two years of the type’s operation. The airline was the launch operator of what was then the Bombardier CS300. While its first aircraft was delivered in November 2016, the airline’s 20th aircraft was delivered less than a month ago.
The news was first revealed by Aviation Analyst Alex Macheras last night:
At this point it’s worth highlighting @AirBaltic CEO told me the airline conducted 50 Pratt & Whitney engine replacements in less than two years(!) on its small fleet of Airbus A220 jets. pic.twitter.com/78pkoxk94y
— Alex Macheras (@AlexInAir) October 15, 2019
What airBaltic says
What makes this even more interesting is the timeframe attached to these engines. airBaltic’s COO, Martin Sedlacky, told Simple Flying:
“airBaltic can confirm that during the first two introduction years of Airbus A220-300 operations the airline had conducted 50 engine replacements due to different reasons, including planned and scheduled replacements.”
Mr Sedlacky went on to add: “airBaltic’s top priority is safety, and the new Airbus A220-300
aircraft introduction plan had predicted additional attention and upgrades during the initial
stages of exploitation.”
Now, according to airBaltic, the airline’s 14th Airbus A220 was delivered two years after the first aircraft. As the engine replacements occurred within the first two years of A220 operations, the engine replacements would have taken place across 13 Airbus A220 aircraft.
As the Airbus A220 has two engines, a fleet of 13 aircraft would make up a total of 26 engines. As such, if 50 engine replacements were required, every aircraft would have had each of its engines changed around twice in the space of two years.
What is more likely is that some of the older aircraft would have had more engine changes, and some of the newer aircraft would have had fewer engine changes as they hadn’t all been flying for the same period of time. However, to have an average of two changes per engine during the first two years does seem surprising.
What do you make of this rate of replacement? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!