A flight with air carrier Swiss International Air Lines was cancelled earlier this week after a gear retraction failure whilst airborne. The aircraft arrived back on the runway 35 minutes after it departed without casualties.
The incident was reported on 18th October by The Aviation Herald. The flight in question was flight LX-87 which was leaving Montreal (YUL) for Zurich (ZRH). The aircraft operating the flight was one of Swiss’ Airbus A330-300 and was registered HB-JHL.
Everything began well. The service left from runway 24L at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) at 17:15 but during its climb, the crew reported a problem. At 3,000 feet, they called in an issue to say that the aircraft’s landing gear would not retract. According to The Aviation Herald:
“The crew requested delay vectors to work their checklists, then declared PAN PAN.”
PAN PAN is the signal used to flag an urgent issue onboard which is not immediately life-threatening to passengers and does not pose an immediate danger to the aircraft.
As well as declaring an urgent issue, the crew also said that they could not dump fuel and expected hot brakes as they came into land. This prompted emergency services being called to the runway. But despite the initial fears, the aircraft landed back in Montreal safely.
The flight was canceled and the affected passengers were booked onto flights the following day.
Why did flight LX-87 need to return to the runway?
Currently, the A330-300 in question still remains on the ground in Montreal. Whilst none of the 206 passengers and 12 crew members on board were harmed in the incident, the situation could have been a bit more problematic had crew not promptly reacted.
Flying with landing gear extended can cause drag on an aircraft meaning less stability and longer travel times. The speed at which an aircraft is traveling also has the potential to damage the landing gear as well as the mainframe of the aircraft.
A similar situation was avoided when Delta was unable to retract its landing gear earlier this year. Hopefully, the issue is a one-off occurrence for Swiss and won’t see the grounding of even more of its Airbus fleet.
Swiss International Air Lines and the A330-300
Swiss received its first Airbus A330-300 in 2009. It ordered seven of the model in September 2007 which are configured in a three-class layout offering 236 seats. At the time, the orders and delivery coincided with Swiss’ network expansion to provide more medium and long-haul services.
In Airbus’ statement in 2009, CEO of Swiss International Air Lines Christoph Franz exclaimed:
“We are more than pleased to introduce the eco-efficient A330-300 into our fleet… its outstanding performance strengthens our competitiveness and reduces the environmental impact at the same time.”
According to Air Fleets, Swiss currently has 14 A330-300 in a fleet of 89 aircraft.
Have you flown Swiss’ A330-300? What do you think about this latest Airbus aircraft incident with the airline? Let us know!