Swiss International Air Lines has returned to service the first of 29 Airbus A220s it grounded earlier this week to conduct immediate inspections on their Pratt & Whitney PW1500G turbofans. The grounding was implemented following a London to Geneva flight had to shut down one of the aircraft’s two engines in flight. In a published statement, the airline announced that it expected a resumption of schedule “in a largely regular manner” on Thursday. Tuesday’s grounding forced the cancellation of around 100 flights.
The shutdown of the PW1500G was the third time the airline had experienced within four months. An A220-100 operating between Geneva to London on 25 July suffered an inflight shutdown as it approached its cruising altitude. The aircraft made an emergency divert to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. The airline’s second PW1500G inflight shutdown occurred on 16 September as the aircraft, which was on the same route, neared its cruise altitude, although this time the aircraft did not need to divert.
Both incidents were due to the failure of the engine’s first rotating low-pressure compressor stage. Following the two incidents the FAA issued an airworthiness directive (AD) on 25 September requiring repetitive inspections, beginning with 50 flight cycles, of the LPC Stage 1 rotos and inlet guide vanes of the PW1500G and PW1900G engines with less than 300 flight cycles since entering service. But it has not been determined if the latest PW1500G failure on the A220 was due to any of the engine’s LPC stages. Nor has it been confirmed whether this engine had reached 300 flight cycles.
The A220-300 which was involved in Tuesday’s incident, which again saw it diverting to Paris Charles de Gaulle following the shutdown, operated as flight XL359, according to the airline. Swiss currently operates 20 A220-300s and nine A220-100s.
Airbus issued the following statement relating to the incident: “We sincerely regret this impediment for our customers and its passengers. Together with the engine manufacturer we are supporting our customer to minimize disruption to their operations. We will support the investigation in line with ICAO Annex 13 standards.”