Vueling Airbus A320 Experiences Engine Shut Down Departing Barcelona

A Vueling Airbus A320 has had to return to Barcelona within 15 minutes of take-off after a fire was seen emitting from one of its engines. The cockpit had to shut down the affected engine and perform an emergency landing back at its origin.

Vueling Airlines Airbus A320. Photo: Julian Herzog via Wikimedia

What are the details?

On the 6th of October, Vueling flight VY-2131 from Barcelona to Madrid didn’t get higher than 2,000 feet when the cockpit noticed ‘streaks of flame’ from one of its engines. As reported by The Aviation Herald, the aircraft reported a technical problem to ground control.

The affected aircraft had to turn back to Barcelona. Photo: Flight Radar 24

The pilots decided to abort takeoff, shut down the affected engine and land back at the airport. They managed to line up correctly with Barcelona’s other runway and land back safely at the airport. It is not confirmed at this stage if the aircraft was allowed to taxi back to the terminal, but as there is no report of slides being deployed we can assume that the aircraft was fine to taxi with no immediate threat of fire.

Passengers were deplaned and placed onto an alternative flight. As of 27 hours after this incident, the aircraft, tail number EC-LVS, is still sitting at Barcelona airport.

Vueling had this to say about the incident:

Flight VY2131 from Barcelona to Madrid experienced a technical issue after take-off which required the aircraft to return to Barcelona El Prat Airport. All customers and crew were safely disembarked. Customers were rescheduled on another flight after a change of aircraft. At Vueling, the safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority.”

What caused the problem?

At this stage of the investigation, it is hard to determine what might have caused flames to shoot out of the engine. Whilst reports are limited, the fact that the fire ceased when the engine shut down points to a friction-related issue. As this journalist is not an aircraft engine expert, all we can recommend is to wait for the final report from the airline.

The interesting thing is that this isn’t the first time that Vueling has had a problem with an A320 in Barcelona. Recently an aircraft cabin filled with smoke and the plane was forced to land and deploy slides. Thanks to the high winds, the front slides failed to deploy correctly and passengers had to escape through the rear.

Vueling A320neo
The Vueling A320neo had smoke in the cabin. Photo: Marvin Mutz via Flickr

“Upon landing, after detecting smoke in the cabin and in accordance with safety procedures, the crew ordered the evacuation of the aircraft via slides, whereby all customers and crew were safely evacuated. Vueling is working with the relevant authorities to determine the cause. At Vueling, the safety of our customers and crew is our highest priority.” – Vueling statement of the previous incident.

Who is Vueling Airlines?

Vueling Airlines is a Spanish low-cost carrier owned almost entirely (97.5%) by IAG, the International Airlines Group who also own British Airways and Iberia among others. The carrier has 126 aircraft in their fleet, all airbus ranging from the A319 up to the A321neo. They are ordering several new A320neos however the older A320 (involved in the above incident) is their most common aircraft with 84 in their fleet.

Vueling flies to 148 destinations across Europe.

What do you think of this event? Did the pilots take the right action? Let us know in the comments.