Singapore Airlines’ Inaugural LAX To SIN Flight Did Not Go To Plan

Filed Under: Singapore

Singapore Airlines has made a number of significant changes to their US route network this year, as they take possession of both ‘normal’ Airbus A350-900 aircraft, as well as the ultra long range A350-900ULR, which have opened up a range of new routing options to them.

One of these changes was announcing a new nonstop flight between Singapore and Los Angeles, which replaces the routing via Seoul Incheon (the other routing, via Tokyo Narita, has been retained). The nonstop route is being operated by their A350-900ULR, which features only premium economy and business class.

Ben recently flew this same aircraft type on the world’s longest nonstop flight, from Singapore to Newark.

The nonstop flights between Singapore and Los Angeles commenced last weekend, on November 2.

While the inaugural nonstop from Singapore to Los Angeles landed without incident, the return inaugural flight from Los Angeles to Singapore wasn’t so lucky.

40 minutes into the flight, flight crew detected an error with the engine oil meter readings and decided to return the plane to Los Angeles.

The aircraft, with registration 9V-SGC, then sat on the tarmac at LAX for several hours which engineers inspected the problem, before determining the plane was then serviceable.

The flight finally departed at almost 5am local time, arriving into Singapore around five hours late.

Bottom line

Safety is the top priority for any airline.

It’s pretty crazy to think that there would be an issue with a new plane that is only one month old. It would have been exhausting for passengers to stay awake until almost 5am to then embark on an ultra long haul flight, not to mention the poor crew.

The particular aircraft was not the same plane that operated the inaugural world’s longest flight from Singapore to Newark (that was registration 9V-SGA as far as I can gather). It would have been very embarrassing if that flight had been forced to turn around given the amount of publicity it had received.

Have you ever been on a flight that has been turned around for technical issues?

(Tip of the hat to Live And Let Fly)

  1. I have, James.
    I was flying KLM in their 789 from GIG to AMS in C class. Pretty much halfway thru the flight (crossing FOR, if I am not mistaken) the captain decided to return to GIG because of an engine problem. So it was almost 8 hours of flying to the same place.
    Got booked into hotels and in the morning they rebooked passengers into whatever option they had. I went with TAP since I needed to be at LIS asap.

  2. Planes break all the time, whether new or 20 years old. Engine oil issue is no joke and likely required a shutdown. Agreed, kudos to the crew for turning around.

  3. @Greg: you’re correct – it was 9V-SGB which operated the inaugral SIN-EWR-SIN flight last month – I can know cause I was on it! 🙂

  4. “It’s pretty crazy to think that there would be an issue with a new plane that is only one month old.”

    I’m sure Boeing is holding its breath as they await the results of the 4mo old 737-MAX Lion Air crash investigation.

  5. Kudos for putting safety first. The details that are emerging around the Lion Air Boeing are not too good. I do not like the SQ BC seats but I definitely do like the iron clad operating discipline. And that is worth the premium you pay for.

  6. The pilots probably just saw the Shell windshield sticker reminding the pilot to change engine oil every 3,000 miles or 6 month and got spooked by Jiffy Lube commercials.

    Every 3,000 miles is a myth to sell more engine oil. Do not fall for it.

    Conventional oil can run at least 7,000 miles over 12 months.
    Synthetic blend can run at least 10,000 miles over 12-18 months.
    Full synthetic can run at least 15,000 miles over 24 months.

  7. I’ve experienced a handful of flights each have been delayed due to incorrect engine oil pressure readings, especially on aircraft with RR engines. This happens to be a common issue regarding the way there sensors have to be located on the RR engines. It’s also very common to engineer teething problems on new aircraft, which is why the initial production aircraft at typically sold at modest costs. Both the airline and aircraft manufacturer and partners will encounter unique problems over the year. Eventually these fixes will trickle out to the later production models.

  8. It’s pretty crazy to think that there would be an issue with a new plane that is only one month old.

    Yep here we have an aviation expert making such comments weeks after an 8 week old Lion Air plane plunged in to the ocean.

    I am never surprised new things have defects. They are made by humans after all.

    After @james Flybe fopaux now such an insensitive observation one wonders how much longer he can be connected with such a high profile blog.

  9. I was on Southwest’s launch of the 737-MAX 8, which was to follow the original “Texas Triangle” route of DAL-HOU-SAT-DAL. We made it to HOU just fine – then one of the spoilers crapped out, and the plane had to be taken out of service there. Gary Kelly himself was a passenger on the flights, and needless to say, he was a bit embarrassed about the whole thing…

  10. My friend was on this flight, he said when they were waiting on the ground, the FA offered the meal service. And when they finish repairing the engine, new set of crew and pilot came replacing the prevoious one.

  11. Nothing surprising about faults early on a new product’s life. Look how many new cars have “issues.” Sure, as a proportion it’s a minority, but it’s far from unheard of.

  12. Did you hear about Lion air accident recently in Indonesia, the plane is also “new” Boeing 737.
    The pilot requested to return, but it was too late. The plane crashed into the ocean.

  13. It is absolutely essential to act positively on any unusual instrument reading. To disregard such is the thin end of the wedge and has been the first stage in unfolding cascades in many tragic events resulting in fatalities. Ignoring an instrument introduces uncertainties into thought processes, distrust of either ones own judgement or the plane’s instruments. As a crew it is not a position you want to be in. If and when a second abnormality comes along, if you disregarded the first you are on very weak ground to make a sound judgement about the second. Immediate return to base is the only option. Never disregard even a suspected faulty instrument.

  14. I once was on IAH-TPE flight on Eva Air. Was taxiing to the runway then a technical issue occurred so the plane returned to the gate. Took 2 hours to fix the plane and then had a 16 hour flight ahead of us. So 18 hours total on the airplane. I’m thankful I was in business class on that flight.

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