The Federal Aviation Administration is considering calling for Airbus A220 checks in light of an issue that led to at least two inflight shutdowns. This will means extra checks and the possible replacement of several Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan oil system components that caused two inflight incidents.
What is the problem with Airbus A220 engines?
The draft notice, published on September 10th, proposes inspections of the PW1500Gs and PW1900G, ATW reports. The gap between the oil supply of the engine and the fuel oil cooler is to be inspected repetitively. Moreover, operators are to swap the fuel oil cooler and the supply tube for new components to comply with Pratt & Whitney’s service guidance.
The issue was revealed earlier this year when P&W addressed it with its service bulletins. When contacted by Flight Global, the company did not disclose more details than those provided in the service bulletins.
P&W only mentioned that it recommends “inspection and replacement of hardware on PW1500G and PW1900G engines to prevent possible oil leakage between an oil supply tube and the fuel oil cooler.”
The initial checks will take place within 300 cycles starting from the effective date of the mandate, with the next inspections to follow-up at every 850 cycles. The PW1500G is the engine of the A220 series, whereas the PW1900G is mainly used on the Embraer E-Jet range.
The time limit for comments on the FAA proposed directive is October 25th, 2019.
When was the problem reported?
There were at least two separate incidents linked to low oil pressure on two A220 aircraft. An AirBaltic A220-300 returned to Riga International Airport on August 5th, 2018, shortly after takeoff. The decision to return was made when the crew received a low oil-pressure warning for engine no.2.
The second incident took place on October 13th, 2018, involving a Swiss International Air Lines A220-100 en route to Zurich from Paris. In this case, the flight continued to its destination.
Another in-flight engine shutdown took place in July 2019, on a Swiss A220 flying from Geneva to London. However, a subsequent investigation determined the shutdown was not related to the oil issue. The flight was diverted to Paris.
Previous life limitation issues
This news follows on from issues discovered earlier in the year with the PW1500G, which led to an NPRM being published by the FAA. This NPRM reduces the life limitations of the engine, following the discovery of excessive corrosion in the engine during a routine overhaul.
The PW1500G is used on all A220 aircraft, of which 81 have so far been delivered (as of the end of August 2019). The largest fleets are with Lufthansa Group (for Swiss) with 29, Delta Air Lines with 21 and airBaltic with 19. More than 500 A220s are currently on order.