A China Airlines Airbus A330 Lost Primary Computers After Landing

On June 14th, a China Airlines Airbus A330-300 experienced the failure of several systems as it touched down at Taipei Songshan Airport. With the aircraft’s primary flight computers, thrust reverser, and autobrake systems non-responsive, the crew applied manual braking, stopping just 10 meters before the end of the runway.

China Airlines A330
The incident involves a China Airlines A330 aircraft at Taipei’s Songshan International Airport. Photo: Getty Images

Details of the CI202 incident

The Airbus A330-300, registered as B-18302, was performing flight CI202 from Shanghai Pudong (China) to Taipei Songshan (Taiwan) according to The Aviation Herald. CI202 is a five times weekly flight that normally departs Shanghai at 16:15 local time and arrives at Taipei around 18:15. An interesting thing about this flight is that in the past week, it seems to have switched back and forth between Shanghai Pudong and Shanghai Hongqiao. 

On June 14th, the A330 touched down on Songshan’s wet runway 10. Upon touchdown, the Aviation Herald reports that all three primary flight computers, thrust reversers, and autobrake systems failed. This affected the stopping distance of the aircraft.

In response, the crew applied maximum manual braking, managing to stop the aircraft just 10 meters (or 33 feet) before the end of the runway. The total runway length was 2600 meters.

After it was able to just barely perform a safe stop, the aircraft was towed to the apron where it remained on the ground until June 23rd. On the 23rd it was repositioned to Taipei Taoyuan International Airport. Since its repositioning flight to the larger Taoyuan airport, the A330 has remained on the ground.

B-18302 flight path on Jun 23 2020
The repositioning flight path of B-18302 June 23rd. Sources report that the aircraft has been on the ground since then. Photo: FlightAware

Investigation underway

Taiwan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has reported that the root cause of the occurrence is still under investigation. As such, it advises all A330 operators to take the following countermeasures:

  • Prior to dispatch, consider possible deceleration deficiencies with the conditions mentioned above on wet runways.
  • Required landing distance shall be predetermined for a wet runway. If the distance is a concern, consider an alternate aerodrome.
  • Operators should enhance crew awareness of wet runway operations. If automatic braking is out of function, promptly change to the alternate system or apply manual braking
China Airlines A330
With its first flight in 2004, the aircraft involved in the incident (B-18302) is roughly 16 years old. Photo: Getty Images

A rare occurrence

With so many A330s flying, this type of incident seems to be quite a rare occurrence. Simple Flying has reported on several A330 incidents. While we’ve seen engine failures and cabin depressurization, the failure of an aircraft’s flight computer, thrust reverser, and autobrake systems is nearly unheard of.

In December 2019, we reported on a Qantas flight, QF575, from Sydney to Perth, which suffered a hydraulic issue. The pilots made the decision to return to Sydney and deploy slides in order to evacuate the Airbus A330.

For the experienced pilots out there, what do you think might be some contributing factors for the China Airlines A330 incident? What might have caused these systems to fail and shut down? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.