Qatar Airways A330 In Emergency Depressurisation Descent

On 17 February, a Qatar Airways Airbus A330-200 was performing flight QR631 from Sialkot (Pakistan) to Doha (Qatar). Shortly after take-off, it experienced a loss of cabin pressure. As a result of the incident, the crew decided to make an emergency descent, deploying oxygen masks. Descending from FL380 to FL110, then FL080, the aircraft’s pressure leveled off according to the Aviation Herald.

Qatar A330
Qatar will retire its aging A330s within two years. Photo: Curimedia via Wikimedia Commons

Unable to continue its journey to Doha, the flight diverted to the city of Multan – Pakistan’s seventh-largest city.

Flight and aircraft details

With the aircraft on the ground in Multan, a replacement aircraft – another A330 – was dispatched to resume the journey. It departed Multan nearly 12 hours after the incident aircraft landed there.

The total delay to passengers was 36.5 hours. This is because the flight was supposed to depart the previous day – on 16 February. However, that flight had to be canceled as Sialkot’s runway was closed for maintenance work. Qatar Airways operates a five times weekly service between Doha and Sialkot.

Qatar Airways A330 In Emergency Depressurisation Descent
The flight path of QR631 on 17 February. Photo: FlightRadar24

On this particular day, flight QR631 was operated using an Airbus A330 with registration A7-ACI. According to Airfleets, the aircraft involved is a 13.8-year old Airbus A330. Interestingly, this particular aircraft spent last summer as a lease with Air Canada.

Problems with pressurization, while not considered frequent, do happen from time to time. In fact, last month we reported on a Malaysia Airlines A330 flying from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur. The aircraft was forced to turn back yesterday due to a pressurization issue. The report also noted that a passenger said there was work done on a door seal just before departure.

Qatar Airways’ phasing out its A330s

Qatar Airways is continuing the overhaul of its fleet of commercial aircraft. The airline has already retired the A340 and announced its plan to retire the A380. The A330 and A320s are next to be phased out.

Qatar Airways A330 In Emergency Depressurisation Descent
Qatar Airways has a total of 19 A330s at the moment. Photo: VDARG via Wikipedia

Right now, the airline has six A330-200s and 13 A330-300s in their fleet according to the most recent numbers on their website. These are being replaced by incoming Airbus A350-1000s and Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

A small handful of A330s that Qatar Airways had once owned went over to Air Italy to support the airline’s long-haul operations. Unfortunately, the airline went bankrupt and ceased operations earlier this month. Qatar had owned 49% of Air Italy, which was the maximum allowed for a foreign investor. Air Italy’s aircraft still belong to Qatar Airways, and would, therefore, be returned to the parent company. However, as we know Qatar Airways is phasing out the type from its operations, it is likely to lease these aircraft out to other airlines.

Air Italy Airbus A330-200 EI-GFX
Many of Qatar Airways’ Airbus A330s went to Air Italy. Photo: BriYYZ Wikimedia Commons

Have you ever been involved in a loss-of-pressure incident on an aircraft? Let us know in the comments.

We reached out to Qatar Airways for further details or an official statement. However, at the time of publishing this article, we have yet to receive a response from the airline. We will update this article if anything comes in.