SWISS has today grounded their fleet of Airbus A220s (formerly known as the Bombardier C Series). This is due to issues with the Pratt & Whitney engines on these planes.
SWISS is the world’s largest operator of the A220, as they have a total of 29 of these planes in their fleet (including nine A220-100s and 20 A220-300s). The airline has a total of 89 planes in their fleet, so this represents nearly a third of their planes.
The decision to ground the A220s comes after a flight from London to Geneva diverted to Paris today after an engine shut down as the plane reached cruising altitude.
The airline has had at least eight similar issues happen in the past year on this aircraft type, which is way too many for what is ultimately a relatively small fleet.
So the airline will be grounding the planes to carry out engine inspections. It’s my understanding that the hope is to have these planes flying again within a day or two. This shouldn’t be like the 737 MAX grounding, or anything.
It’s also worth noting that the A220 is able to fly on one engine, so in and of itself these shut downs haven’t been “dangerous.” Then again, when you have incidents like this happen as often as they do, it becomes more of an issue. If there were a flight where both engines shut down at once, that could of course be catastrophic.
SWISS is being rather cryptic about this situation. All that their website says is the following:
The ongoing technical inspections of several aircraft will restrict our flight operations. As a result many flights will be cancelled.
They do provide some more details on Twitter, though:
SWISS has decided to conduct engine inspections for its entire C Series fleet. This means that all SWISS C Series aircraft will undergo an extensive examination from today onwards. Only following a faultless inspection will these aircraft be returned to regular flight duties.
— Swiss Intl Air Lines (@FlySWISS) October 15, 2019
As of the time of this post, 36 flights have been canceled for today. If you’re scheduled to fly SWISS on a short haul flight in the next few days you’ll want to check your flight status, since this represents a large portion of their regional fleet.
I’ll be curious to see how long it takes them to get the A220 back in the sky, and also to see whether other airlines follow SWISS’ lead in grounding their A220s. One has to wonder if the “problem” here is something that can even easily be identified with an engine inspection, or if this is a more complicated problem than that.