JetBlue Airbus A321 Returns To Fort Lauderdale Over Engine Issue

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Last week, a JetBlue A321 operating flight B6-109 from Fort Lauderdale to Port au Prince in Haiti, had to make an emergency landing back in Fort Lauderdale. The crew identified engine issues during the initial ascent, and the plane landed safely with all 113 passengers just 50 minutes after takeoff. A replacement aircraft then operated the fight. Here’s everything you need to know.

JetBlue, New York, Guatemala City
A JetBlue Airbus A321 had to return to Fort Lauderdale after engine problems. Photo: Airbus

The Incident

The crew of the Airbus A321-200 turned the plane around during the initial climb out of Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport. According to The Aviation Herald, a compressor vane indication for one of the aircraft’s engines was not operating correctly. While this isn’t an immediately life-threatening issue, a vane out of place could affect the direction of the airflow through the engines. This disruption could result, in extreme cases, in engine failure.

The aircraft, registration N997JL, otherwise known as “Blues That Girl?” was only delivered to JetBlue in September of 2018. The plane landed safely in Fort Lauderdale at 16:23, having taken off at 15:35. The 113 passengers and 6 crew were transferred onto another aircraft, an A321neo, registration N2029J, and finally landed in Haiti at 21:38. That’s over six hours later than planned.

The initial aircraft was grounded for over 24 hours after its relatively short round-trip. However, since then, it has operated flights to New York and Orlando. We currently don’t know any further details regarding the incident, and JetBlue has not yet responded to a request for comment. Although considering the plane was grounded for repairs, the crew clearly made the right decision in turning the plane around.

JetBlue basic fares
The A321 has problems with the compressor vanes in the engine, so it landed just 50 minutes after takeoff. Photo: JetBlue

This is the second time in less than a month that a JetBlue flight has returned to Fort Lauderdale shortly after takeoff. Another A320 had problems with landing gear and was forced to circle above the airport for an hour before landing safely.

JetBlue fleet plans and expansion

However, JetBlue is still looking to add Airbus planes to its fleet. So far this year, it has taken delivery of four new Airbus A321neos. Another three are set to join the rapidly growing airline later this year alongside a hotly anticipated A220. The A321neo, which rescued the passengers from Fort Lauderdale last week only joined JetBlue at the end of last year.

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A321neo
JetBlue has already received four new A321neo deliveries this year. It is expecting three more in 2020. Photo: JetBlue

Hopefully, by refreshing its fleet with brand new aircraft, the airline will have fewer maintenance issues to deal with in the future. This will be a crucial aspect of the airline’s plan for growth and recovery over the coming months.

While other airlines are stalling plans, JetBlue is looking to grow, and Fort Lauderdale is central to its plans. The airline recently outlined plans to expand its Florida operations to around 140 flights per day. The airport is JetBlue’s gateway to Latin America, and the airline hopes to increase its network here. Already, the airline is the second biggest operator out of Fort Lauderdale, just behind Spirit Airlines.

What do you think about JetBlue’s expansion plans and its new A321neos? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

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