**Update: 25/04/21 @ 09:00 UTC – Statement made by Airbus. Included in article.**
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, better known as EASA, has issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) concerning the fuel pumps of a wide range of A320 family aircraft. Citing the risk of fuel tank explosion, the issue affects aircraft ranging from the A318-100 right through to the A321neo. EASA is warning all operators of affected types of a “potential quality issue on an affected part.” The AD was issued on April 23rd and concerns aircraft manufactured before June 30th, 2015.
What is the problem exactly?
According to EASA, a “potential quality issue on an affected part” has been identified. In this situation, the locking key of the impeller drive shaft was found loose in the cavity under the impeller. The AD goes on to state a possible, very serious consequence of the issue if left unaddressed:
“This condition, if not corrected, could, in case of operating a pump while not fully immersed in fuel, create an ignition source in the fuel tank, possibly resulting in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the aeroplane.”
Simple Flying contacted Airbus about this issue. A spokesperson responded with the following statement:
“Safran Aerosystems informed Airbus of a number of a limited batch of fuel pumps, currently fitted onto some A320 [Family jets] in-service aircraft (and in spare stock), which could be subject to a quality issue. Safety is the No. 1 priority. According to the standard process, operators have been notified and the authorities have been involved to launch the appropriate AD. No in service issues have been reported. The pumps belonging to this batch have been well identified and are subject to a dedicated remove/replacement action plan in collaboration with Safran Aerosystems. Current production standard of the A320 [Family jets] is not affected by this quality escape. Less than 2% of the fleet could potentially be affected.”
Which aircraft are affected?
EASA states that this issue affects aircraft that have a date of manufacture before June 30th, 2015. Some aircraft manufactured after this may also be affected, due to the possibility that “an affected part has been installed on that airplane since its date of manufacture.”
Unfortunately, this potentially covers a very wide range of A320 Family variants, as noted by EASA:
Airbus A318-111, A318-112, A318-121, A318-122, A319-111, A319-112, A319-113, A319-114, A319-115, A319-131, A319-132, A319-133, A319-151N, A319-153N, A319-171N, A320-211, A320-212, A320-214, A320-215, A320-216, A320-231, A320-232, A320-233, A320-251N, A320-252N, A320-253N, A320-271N, A320-272N, A320-273N, A321-111, A321-112, A321-131, A321-211, A321-212, A321-213, A321-231, A321-232, A321-251N, A321-251NX, A321-252N, A321-252NX, A321-253N, A321-253NX, A321-271N, A321-271NX, A321-272N and A321-272NX aircraft.
While all manufacturer serial numbers of these aircraft types are included in the AD, the specific fuel pump needing replacement is limited. In this case, the Part Number (P/N) is listed as P99C38-605, with the issue extending to a list of just over 100 serial numbers. Those numbers are listed in Appendix 1 of the EASA AD.
Thus, with a relatively small list of fuel pump serial numbers affected, this issue doesn’t appear to be as widespread as the long list of possibly affected variants might indicate.
The corrective actions recommended
EASA’s AD requires the replacement of affected parts while also prohibiting their reinstallation. Certain maintenance-related actions are prohibited as well, pending the replacement of affected parts.
For its part, Airbus has identified the list of parts possibly affected and issued fuel pump replacement instructions via an AOT (All Operators Telex).
Action must be taken within 10 days or 50 flight cycles after the effective date of the AD (April 27th), whichever occurs later.
As this article is written with the intent to summarize the situation, some finer details have been excluded in the interest of simplicity and readability. For those interested in reading the full airworthiness directive, it can be found on EASA’s website by clicking here.