Air Tanzania grounds its A220 fleet due to Engine Problems

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“Due to the worldwide technical challenges of the PW1524G-3 engines used in Airbus A220-300 aircraft and in accordance with safety requirements, we have been following professional guidelines to provide the best and safety service. And sometimes we take the planes out.” With these words, Air Tanzania has informed that it “will reduce and cancel some of our flights depending on the number of available flights,” following the continued reliability issues that have plagued the Pratt & Whitney GTF geared turbofan engines impacting the Airbus A220 jet, the former C-Series.

Air Tanzania is the latest carrier to have issues with its A220, prompting the airline to ground the aircraft type due to the technical problem involving this aircraft engine, that has traces going back much further to 2014.

Speaking to AirInsight, Chief Executive Officer, Ladislaus Matindi, did not delve into the exact nature of the problems but confirmed that they had faced technical issues with the aircraft engines. He also noted that he did not have the timeline for the resolution of issue nor reveal the number of aircraft affected.

“Until the engines are in the repair shop, we cannot know exactly when we shall get relief. And because this problem is not particular to Air Tanzania but applies to all operators of the GTF, there are not even enough spare engines to keep us going as the affected engines visit the repair shop,” Matindi said.

Trouble with the A220 engines

However, difficulties with the engines of the former C-Series jets date back to 2014. In that year, the C-Series was still in the test phase at the then manufacturer Bombardier when an incident occurred during an engine test on 29 May. The test pilot experienced a so-called uncontained engine failure in which parts were ejected from the engine.

After three months of investigations by Bombardier and the engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, the C-Series took off again. Bombardier wrote in a media release at the time that various measures had been taken to prevent such an event from recurring.

Then it became quiet sometime around engine problems with the C-Series, as the planes went to the first operators.

However, in December 2018, an incident occurred with a Korean Air A220. Damage to the engine’s low-pressure compressor forced the South Korean airline’s A220 to turn back. And in June 2019, an A220 from Delta Air Lines had to perform a go around at La Guardia because the left engine failed or at least did not deliver full power.

This also happened on 25 July and 16 September 2019 involving, Swiss International Air Lines which had to divert an A220-300 flight after a low-pressure compressor disintegrated while climbing through 32,000 feet. The second incident occurred on another Swiss flight just before the aircraft reached 35,000 feet, in which the low-pressure compressor had separated and caused a hole in the compressor case.

FAA’s Directive

The two incidents involving Swiss International Air lines’ A220 also called the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into action. The American aviation authorities issued an airworthiness directive on 26 September of that year in which they identified the low-pressure compressor as a problem in the two incidents. The FAA ordered operators to check their engines.

On October 14, 2022, the FAA issued a proposal to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Pratt & Whitney PW1519G, PW1521G, PW1521G-3, PW1521GA, PW1524G, PW1524G-3, PW1525G, and PW1525G-3 model turbofan (GTF) engines.

Although these incidents occurred on PW1524G-3 model turbofan engines, the FAA also included PW1900 engines because similarities in type design make these engines susceptible to the same unsafe condition. Comments on the proposed AD by FAA are due by December 9, 2022.

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