Lufthansa Airbus A340 Suffers Engine Out Above Bulgaria

An older A340-300 en-route to Tehran has had to turn back over Sofia, Bulgaria after one of its four engines shut down.

Lufthansa A340
The Lufthansa A340 that was caught up in the incident. You can actually see the engine right in the center of the photo. Photo: Wikimedia

What are the details?

A Lufthansa flight on it’s way to Iran has had to turn back to Germany after one of its engines disabled halfway to its destination.

The route with the plane turning back just before Turkey. Photo: Flightradar24

The Airbus A340-300 aircraft, owned by Lufthansa and with the registration D-AIFC, was performing flight LH-600 from Frankfurt/Main (Germany) to Tehran Imam Khomeini (Iran). Approx two hours into the journey over the city of Sofia in Bulgaria, the flight deck noticed that the third engine (on the inside track on the right of the aircraft) was surging with power and vibrating.

Concerned, they descended to 34,000 feet and reduced the power to the engine until it stopped vibrating. They determined it was not an emergency and decided to turn around back to Germany to get Lufthansa technicians familiar with the aircraft to give it a look over. It took another two hours to get back to Frankfurt airspace, where the pilots decided to completely shut down the engine during descent. The plane landed successfully.

According to a passenger on board, the flight team announced that the plane had an engine (CFM56) issue and would need to return back.

Once the aircraft was on the ground, it was deplaned and taken to a hangar for inspection. Maintenance crews decided it was best to remove the engine completely and requested another aircraft to take the passengers onwards.

A backup A340-300, registration D-AIGV, took off a few hours later and at the time of writing this article, is fittingly passing over Sofia, Bulgaria. The Aviation Herald, who originally broke this story, reported that the engine in question will likely be replaced by Lufthansa.

The seat map of a typical A340. Photo: Lufthansa

Is it time for Lufthansa to replace their A340s?

If you follow aviation news stories closely, you will realize there is a slight pattern forming regarding A340 aircraft. Even just this month, a Hi Fly A340 was reported to soak a runway in Orlando with aviation fuel due to a hydraulics failure. 

Additionally, many airlines are looking to replace their A340s as soon as possible with better fuel-efficient variants, such as the A330neo or the spiritual successor to the A340, the A350. Some airlines like Philippine Airlines who replaced their A340sbe with A350s earlier this year or South African Airways who will do the same as soon as they can.

What is likely that we will hear more stories like the above as these older aircraft start to wear down. They are completely safe and could fly for many years, but original components that were built when the aircraft was first created are simply going to break down.

What do you think about this incident? Should Lufthansa look at retiring the A340 as soon as possible like other airlines?