Following an engine failure of a Swiss Airlines Airbus A220 on July 25th, the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) has called for help in finding some missing parts. The engine’s first stage low-pressure compressor rotor was missing from the engine, and finding the parts could provide vital clues to help unpick what went wrong.
According to the Aviation Herald, the Airbus A220, formerly Bombardier C-Series, was operating flight LX-348 for Swiss Airlines from Geneva in Switzerland to London Heathrow in the UK. The one year old aircraft, registered HB-JCM, was climbing through FL320 around 100 nautical miles to the southeast of Paris when the incident occurred.
A bang was heard from the engine, and streaks of flame were reported to be coming out of the engine. As a result, the crew shut down the engine and diverted to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. The plane made a safe touchdown around 30 minutes after the incident. It was met by emergency services but nobody on board was hurt.
— Hist’Aero (@HistAero) July 25, 2019
Upon inspection of the aircraft, it was noted that the left engine, at Pratt & Whitney PW1524, suffered a major mechanical failure. The low-pressure compressor rotor stage 1 was missing from the engine as a result. Although nobody was hurt, the occurrence is being rated as a serious incident and as such is being thoroughly investigated.
Searching for the parts
As the engine was not intact after the incident, the investigators are keen to retrieve the missing parts to further understand what went wrong. As the engine was designed and built in the US, the NTSB is leading the investigation with help from the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA).
On behalf of the NTSB, the BEA has issued a call for witnesses and requested help in locating the missing parts. They say that the parts may have ended up in a woodland area close to the conurbations of Perrigny-sur-Armancon and Cry. To help with the search, they have issued the following map outlining the potential areas where the parts may be.
According to the BEA, the parts they are looking for are from the first stage of the engine’s low-pressure compressor and are made from titanium. They say that the pieces would be under 30cm in length. The BEA has issued the following images of how the parts may look:
The BEA has issued the following instructions to anyone who comes across the parts.
Anyone who may have found one of these pieces is invited to follow the protocol below:
- Note the location of the item
- Handle the piece with care, the metal can be very sharp
- Send a photograph by mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Wait for further instructions from the BEA
Often, when an engine fails, finding all the missing parts can give vital clues to where the fault lies, as we saw in the case of the Air France flight 66 A380. Scrutiny of the parts enabled the manufacturer to better understand what went wrong and to take steps to prevent it from happening again. Let’s hope someone can find those missing items.