A Qantas Airbus operating a flight to Singapore returned to Melbourne on the weekend after its landing gear failed to retract.
Landing gear would not retract
The A330-200 (VH-EBS Swan Valley) had departed Melbourne as QF37 on Sunday, 26 January 2020. QF37 is the daily 17:20 service up to Singapore, an eight-hour hop away.
The flight pushed back on-time and took off at 17:37. According to The Aviation Herald, after departing from Melbourne’s runway 16, the crew halted the climb at 8,000 feet because they couldn’t raise the landing gear.
The decision was made to return to Melbourne. The A330-200 circled Port Phillip Bay for about an hour to burn off fuel. The flight landed safely back in Melbourne at 18:56, arriving back at the gate at 19:26.
The flight was subsequently canceled.
A330s a staple of the Qantas fleet
Following the incident, VH-EBS remained on the ground in Melbourne for three days before operating a return flight to Singapore on Wednesday, 29 January 2020. The aircraft has since operated three return flights to Singapore without incident.
Qantas has 18 A330-200s, part of a wider fleet of 28 aircraft belong to the A330 family. VH-EBS is just over 8 years old, younger than the average age of 11.8 years for the A330-200s.
The aircraft is a staple on flights into Asia and across to Perth and is considered a reliable workhorse of the Qantas fleet. The passenger-friendly 2-4-2 configuration in the economy class cabin makes the A330-200 a popular alternative to the newer but squeezier Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
A spate of A330-200 cancellations
But there have been a few A330 cancellations in recent times owing to what has been variously described as “intermittent hydraulic problems” and electrical problems with one or more A330-200s.
Just looking over the last few days, we’ve found that on Monday, 27 January 2020, QF652, the scheduled A330-200 service between Perth and Brisbane was canceled. On the same day, QF775, the scheduled A330-200 between Melbourne and Perth did not operate.
On Tuesday, 28 January 2020, QF574, the scheduled A330-200 service between Perth and Sydney was canceled.
Two days ago, on Wednesday, 29 January 2020, the Sydney – Denpasar -Sydney service scheduled to be operated by an A330-200 was canceled.
These most recent cancellations could in part be attributed to the VH-EBS, the A330-200 that returned to Melbourne on Sunday, remaining on the ground. Qantas also had a second A330-200 offline for maintenance for a week. VH-EBF only returned to service on Tuesday, 28 January 2020, having spent a week in Sydney undergoing the maintenance.
The spate of cancellations is raising some eyebrows amongst Qantas frequent flyers. It is also raising some ire if passengers find themselves bumped from the roomy A330-200 to the not-so-roomy 737-800s.
Airline attracts attention for cancellations
Qantas styles itself as Australia’s premium airline and is certainly the most expensive. But it has recently attracted some attention when Australian government statistics revealed it had canceled 8.15% of its flights on the Sydney – Melbourne – Sydney route in November 2019. Qantas attributed this to a range of both operational problems and issues outside its control.
Statistics recently released for December 2019 reflect more kindly on Qantas. The cancellation rate on the Sydney – Melbourne – Sydney was 6.15%. This is high but at least moving in the right direction. Network-wide, Qantas had a cancellation rate of 2.4% in December, a middle of the pack result.
Unfortunately, what the statistics do not reveal is the rate of cancellation by aircraft type. However, the smaller the fleet of a certain aircraft type, the greater the impact of a single cancellation on the overall monthly results.
Have you been impacted by Qantas A330-200 cancellations? Post a comment and let us know.