Spirit Airlines Airbus A319 Involved In Serious Maintenance Mishap

An Airbus A319 belonging to Spirit Airlines has been seriously damaged while in maintenance. The 12-year-old aircraft apparently fell off the jacks that were supporting it. As a result, the jack strut impaled the airframe, causing damage to the fuselage and wing.

Spirit Airlines A319
An A319 was badly damaged in maintenance. Photo: JT Occhialini via Wikimedia

A maintenance mishap

Sam Chui is reporting today that an Airbus belonging to Spirit Airlines has been damaged in what looks to be a maintenance mishap. The A319, registered N533NK, was under the care of a Lufthansa Technik facility in Puerto Rico when the accident happened.

It appears that the aircraft was being supported on jacks when either it slipped off, or the jack moved its position. As a result, the aircraft was impaled on the jack strut, causing serious damage to the wing and fuselage.

The A319 had been ferried to Aguadilla on November 27th for some routine maintenance. However, it looks like the airframe will be far longer in maintenance than originally planned, if it ever returns to service at all.

The damage

Whatever mishap caused the accident to occur, the damage to the airframe is extensive. Photographs shared by Sam Chui show the jack penetrating the wings and fuselage of the aircraft.

The status of the airframe, according to Planespotters, has changed from ‘active’ to ‘stored’ since the incident occurred. This could mean that it is undergoing repair, which will clearly take some time, or It could be that it is being decommissioned.

It’s a 12-year-old Airbus, so not entirely at the end of its life, but old enough that the leasing firm that owns it may deem it to be a write-off. Lufthansa Technik is likely to be liable for the accident, but will undoubtedly have some serious insurance to cover this sort of eventuality.

Simple Flying has reached out to Spirit for comment on this situation and will update when a reply is received.

On the ground damage

Aircraft being damaged in maintenance, while not a common event, does happen from time to time. Most recently, a door was almost ripped off a Qantas A380 while it was undergoing maintenance in Sydney, and earlier this year an Emirates A380 was badly damaged during an A check.

Spirit Airlines A319
Hopefully, Spirit’s A319 will eventually return to service. Photo: Tomas Del Coro via Flickr

But it’s not always the maintenance teams that are to blame for on the ground damage. British Airways’ shiny new A350-1000 was damaged last month in the paint shop, with rumors suggesting that the scaffolding used by the painters had impacted the horizontal stabilizer. Around the same time, two American Eagle CRJ 900s were damaged in a collision with a fuel truck. And just over a week ago, a LATAM A319 was hit by airstairs on landing at Rio de Janeiro.

Although rare, these incidents really should not happen at all. As for the Spirit A319, someone at Lufthansa Technik is going to have some tough questions to answer.