Around nine hours after SWISS grounded its entire fleet of Airbus A220s, the first ones were preparing to return to service. The airline said that the inspection on these aircraft was complete and they were ready to fly. Subsequently, Airbus and engine maker Pratt & Whitney have issued guidance to all A220 operators instructing them to carry out similar inspections.
A quick return to service
At midday today, Lufthansa owned airline SWISS grounded its entire fleet of Airbus A220 aircraft. The airline operates 29 of the type, and is the world’s largest operator. This followed an incident in which one of its planes had suffered an engine failure. As it was the third time this had happened to one of its A220s, it forced the airline to bring its entire fleet to a standstill in order to conduct detailed inspections.
By around 21:00 UTC, two of SWISS’ A220s were reported to be inspected and ready to return to service. HB-JBI and HB-JCM, undertaking flights LX358 and LX646 respectively were the first two of the fleet to be back in the air.
According to Flight Radar, HB-JBI took off around 30 minutes late at 21:21 local time, landing safely at London Heathrow at 21:40. HB-JCM took off just 10 minutes behind schedule at 20:50 local time for Paris, landing safely an hour later.
SWISS has told Reuters that it expects full service to be resumed from Thursday. However, the grounding will have had a significant effect on SWISS’ operations, as an estimated 100 flights were canceled as a result. AIN Online report some 10,000 passengers will have been affected.
Airbus and Pratt & Whitney advise wider checks
Following the snap grounding of all 29 of SWISS’ A220s, both the manufacturer of the aircraft, Airbus, and the engine maker, Pratt & Whitney have issued additional guidance to other operators of the A220.
In a statement provided to Simple Flying, Airbus said
“Following recent engine incidents, Airbus and Pratt & Whitney are informing all A220 operators of additional recommendations as precautionary measures.
“These new measures include a one-off visual borescope inspection and engine low pressure compressor speed limitation.
“These mitigation measures are put in place as a precautionary measure for the fleet until root cause is identified.
“The first SWISS A220s have already returned to service after a comprehensive engine inspection in perfect condition. Based on the current planning SWISS flight operations can be resumed on Thursday, October 17th.
“Airbus sincerely regrets this inconvenience for our customers and their passengers. Airbus is providing its full support to Pratt & Whitney and the authorities as they continue their investigation.”
This means we are likely to see other operators grounding the aircraft from tomorrow onwards. This could affect flights with, in particular, Delta Air Lines and airBaltic, and to a lesser extent Korean Air, Air Tanzania and EgyptAir.
Judging by the speed at which SWISS managed to get its A220s back into active service, however, it looks as if any impact will be relatively limited and quickly resolved. As always, Simple Flying will keep you updated.