1 Year Old A330neo Suffers Flap Issue Approaching Tokyo

On December 18th, an Aircalin Airbus A330-900neo was approaching Tokyo Narita International Airport when the crew stopped their descent at 4000 feet. This was due to a problem with the aircraft’s flaps. The problem resulted in the aircraft performing a faster-than-normal landing. The aircraft was forced to stay at Narita Airport for just over 24 hours.

A330-900 Aircalin
The incident aircraft, F-ONET, was delivered to Aircalin in October of 2019 but had to be returned to Airbus due to an unexplained foul smell. Photo: Airbus

Incident details

According to reporting by The Aviation Herald, New Caledonian carrier Aircalin was flying one of its Airbus A330-900s, registration F-ONET, from Noumea to Tokyo Narita. The flight, SB800, had 173 people on board.

The jet was on approach to Narita when the crew stopped the descent at 4,000 feet, reporting problems with the aircraft’s flaps. The jet entered a hold between 4,000 feet and 5,000 feet while the crew worked through the applicable checklists and prepared for landing.

35 minutes later, the A330 made a safe landing on Narita’s runway 34L at a higher than normal speed, 160 knots overground. According to an Airbus publication, the A330-900’s final approach speed, under normal conditions, is 141.9 kt at a Maximum Landing Weight (MLW) of 191,000 kg (421,083 lb).

The aircraft was on the ground for over a day as technicians worked through the problem. As a result, the return flight to Noumea, SB801, was canceled and carried out the following day, December 19th.

Since the incident and subsequent repair, F-ONET has been operating safely, with services to Papeete, Auckland, and Sydney.

F-ONET Tokyo
The aircraft entered a holding pattern for a half-hour while the crew worked through checklists. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

F-ONET’s problematic past

This isn’t the first issue we’ve reported on regarding Aircalin’s A330-900 registered as F-ONET. In fact, soon after its initial delivery in October 2019, the crew started reporting a strong smell of oil in the aircraft’s cabin, even reporting headaches after flights.

Aircalin subsequently returned the new A330-900 to Airbus on October 29th for an investigation into the foul smell. The aircraft was flown to Toulouse for examination and returned to Aircalin in December 2019.

Below is Airbus’ timelapse video production of F-ONET being assembled:

“It is a pleasure to see Aircalin modernising its fleet with our latest generation single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft. The A330neo and A320neo will enable Aircalin to offer its customers unprecedented levels of comfort…Aircalin will benefit from the unique commonality between all variants of the Airbus Family and enjoy efficiencies throughout its existing fleet.” -John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer- Customers, Airbus Commercial Aircraft (2017)

Aircalin is quite a small airline with a total fleet of just four aircraft. This is made up of two Airbus A330-900s and two A320-200s. The A330s are, of course, fairly new, with an average age of just 1.4 years old.

However, the A320s are much older, with an average age of 14.8 years. These will be replaced by brand new A320neos. One of which is nearing completion at Airbus facilities in Hamburg. Both narrowbodies are expected to join Aircalin in 2021.

Have you flown with Aircalin yet? Or the A330-900? Share your experience by leaving a comment.

Simple Flying reached out to Aircalin requesting an official statement or additional details regarding the incident. However, at the time of publication, no response was received.