A Titan Airways Airbus A321-200 made a sudden return to London Gatwick Airport (LGW) after one of its engines surged and the other indicated it was stalling. The incident occurred on Wednesday, February 26th, 2020 as the Airbus A321-200 aircraft registration number G-POWN was repositioning from London Gatwick to London Stansted Airport (STN).
According to aviation website the Aviation Herald, the Titan Airways Airbus A321-200 operating as flight number AWC-411W was climbing after having just taken off from Gatwick’s runway 26L when the left side engine suddenly started to surge.
Returning to Gatwick Airport
At the same time, the CFM International built engine started to surge, the aircraft’s right side engine indicated a stall on the Electronic Centralized Aircraft Monitor (ECAM).
The crew decided to abort the flight after climbing to around 4,500 feet and return to Gatwick safely landing back on runway 26L some 11 minutes after departure.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the United Kingdom (AAIB) reported the occurrence involving engine problems as being a serious incident. As such, it is investigating what caused the engine problems.
What is an engine surge?
While the word surge would suggest that the engine was suddenly speeding up when referring to a jet engine, it is actually a compressor stall.
Just like an aircraft’s wing, the compressor blades will stall if the airflow is not maintained at the correct angle of attack. The interruption of airflow into a jet engine can be caused by an excessive application of the throttle, abrupt maneuvering of the aircraft, or a foreign object entering the engine such as a bird strike.
While much has been done to alleviate engine surges, the design of modern jet engines still allows for surges to occur.
When the airflow to the compressor is interrupted, the engine can backfire creating a large bang often with flames coming out of the back of the engine. This is due to the fuel/air mixture being compromised.
Providing that the engine has not been damaged, it can be restarted without incident and return to normal operation.
The Titan Airways fleet
Previously the aircraft started its service life with Austrian low-cost airline Niki in March of 2009. After receiving the European-built plane Titan Airways leased it to low-cost airline Jet2.
Founded in 1988, Titan Airways is a British charter airline company. Specializing in wet lease operations and charter services, governments and sports teams are example clients of the company.
While many airlines have gone into liquidation, Titan Airways have remarkably managed to turn a profit nearly every year of its existence.
Currently, Titan Airways has a fleet of 12 aircraft with an average age of 16.2 years. The fleet comprises of one Airbus A318-100, two Airbus A320-200s, four Airbus A321-200s, one Boeing 737-300, one Boeing 737-400, two Boeing 757-200s and one Boeing 767-300.