Swiss International Air Lines has temporarily grounded its entire Airbus A220 fleet with immediate effect. All 29 aircraft are due to receive engine inspections. Many short haul flights have been cancelled.
This comes after a number of engine-related incidents with the aircraft type in Swiss’ operations. On Tuesday morning, a flight from Geneva to London Heathrow was forced to divert to Paris due to engine issues.
The airline has reportedly called in its crisis management to handle the situation. In an update to passengers, Swiss states: “The ongoing technical inspections of several aircraft will restrict our flight operations. As a result many flights will be cancelled.”
The first aircraft returned to service as early as Tuesday evening, following engine inspections by Swiss.
SWISS takes these incidents very seriously and continues to maintain close contact with the responsible authorities, Airbus Canada & Pratt&Whitney.Swiss International Air Lines
Switzerland’s flag-carrier was the global launch customer of the Airbus A220, previously know as the Bombardier CSeries. Its first A220-100 (at the time called Bombardier CS100) entered service in July 2016. The airline has ordered a total of 30 A220, consisting of 9 -100 and 21 of the larger -300. 29 aircraft have already been delivered.
The Airbus A220 was originally developed by Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, and was acquired by Airbus in 2018. All Airbus A220 are powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engines. Slightly different versions of this engine are also being used on other short haul aircraft, including the competing Embraer E2-family, as well as the Airbus A320neo, Mitsubishi ‘Spacejet’ and Russian-made Irkut MC-21.
Out of all six airlines which are already using the type, AirBaltic’s fleet is most heavily based on the A220. The launch customer of the larger -300 variant has a total of 50 on order, with 20 delivered so far, and plans to operate an all-A220 fleet by 2022. AirBaltic issued a statement on Tuesday evening: “airBaltic is closely following engine manufacturer’s Pratt & Whitney recommendations on additional inspections that are carried out strictly in accordance to manufacturer’s schedule and guidelines to ensure the continued reliability of the airBaltic flight operations. […] airBaltic continues to operate its Airbus A220-300 fleet“. Other operators of the aircraft have not yet commented on Swiss’ decision to temporarily ground the Airbus A220 for inspection.
Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. He built up the website IFN.news and is the Editor-In-Chief of International Flight Network.