It was an interesting morning for those aboard flight DL73 from Amsterdam to Atlanta. On Tuesday, the aircraft was departing the Netherlands heading to the United States when the crew stopped the climb over a problem with the landing gear. After examining the scope of the problem, the crew decided to return to Amsterdam, and the plane landed safely.
Delta Air Lines Airbus A330 gear problem
On Tuesday morning, a Delta Airbus A330-300 flying from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) took off safely but suffered an issue after departure. According to the Aviation Herald, while climbing out of the airport, the flight crew of the aircraft stopped the climb and entered a holding pattern as they figured out the issue.
The gear of the aircraft refused to retract. After spending about 25 minutes in a hold, trying to work out the problem, the crew advised that they wanted to return to Amsterdam. About 35 minutes after departure, the aircraft landed safely in Amsterdam, though it landed overweight.
After about two hours on the ground, the aircraft departed again without issue and made its way to Atlanta.
Flying with the gear down is not part of standard operating procedure for jet aircraft at major airlines, and for a good reason. With the landing gear extended, the aircraft faces excess drag. Since drag counters the aircraft’s thrust, the pilots have to work the engines harder to maintain speed.
Flying with the landing gear down also can damage the landing gear and the mainframe of the aircraft– which can lead to bigger issues than a gear that stays down.
Gear problems do happen in the industry for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, a gear pin is left in; other times, it is a mechanical issue. While it is not clear what the issue was in this case, the issue was able to be solved as the aircraft departed a couple of hours later without issue.
In the last few months, several gear issues have occurred. Gear problems plagued a Cargolux Boeing 747-8F twice on departure. A Lufthansa Airbus A330 returned to Bangalore over a gear issue in November, and a JetBlue plane in August returned to Fort Lauderdale over a gear retraction failure.
As for Airbus A330 incidents, in March, a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330 landing gear failed to retract after departing London-Heathrow. Last year in October, a SWISS Airbus A330 suffered a gear retraction failure in Montreal.
The route and aircraft
Delta Air Lines operates a robust schedule to and from Amsterdam. As a hub of partner KLM, the airport sees many passengers flying Delta connect onwards on KLM and vice versa. In this crisis, Amsterdam is one of the few European destinations Delta is serving nonstop.
The Airbus A330 is a popular aircraft for many of Delta’s routes to and from Amsterdam. Delta’s Airbus A330-300 seats 293 passengers. There are 34 seats in Delta One, 40 in Comfort+, and 219 standard economy seats. All seats feature access to personal, on-demand seatback entertainment.
The Airbus A330 also flies from Atlanta to other destinations in South America. This includes flights to São Paulo, Brazil. The A330 can also be found flying on some shorter routes, such as to and from Cancun, and select high-demand domestic routes.
Were you onboard this flight? What was your experience? Are you a Delta A330 fan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!