Early on the morning of 12th February 2020, AirBaltic flight BT677 operated by an Airbus A220-300 registered YL-AAU diverted to Bordeaux, France after an engine failure midflight.
The aircraft took off 13 minutes late, departing 7:43 a.m. from Riga bound to Malaga. The aircraft was flying near the Pyrenees Mountains when the incident occurred. According to the airline, right after experiencing the failure, the captain reported a left engine shutdown and, following standard procedures, diverted the aircraft and landed safely.
The carrier has been operating the aircraft for two years, and, while being the aircraft´s first prominent and biggest customer, the aircraft has found itself in the need of swapping around 50 engines for 13 different aircraft.
It is worth noting that in October 2019, Swiss International Airlines grounded its fleet of 29 Airbus A220-300s after a flight operating from London to Geneva encountered similar technical issues. After two days, the A220s resumed flying after a detailed inspection that assured “the impeccable condition of the engines.”
Moreover, Air Tanzania, with only two Airbus A220-300 in service, suffered a similar incident in September 2019 following an engine failure en route from Mwanza to Dar es Salaam shortly after takeoff. The aircraft immediately returned and landed safely in the airport, following a temporary grounding until its engine was replaced.
While previous emergencies have not yet been confirmed to be involved in today´s occurrence, it is important to point how similar the incident have been while involving the same type of airplane. French officials argue that the incident´s been taking care of and investigators are on their way to Bordeaux to investigate the situation.
In a statement by Graham Webb, Vice President of engine programs, he noted that "We're going to have a software drop that comes out later this year that will automate everything and enable us to reduce or eliminate all the inspections that we're currently having to perform, but that again is pending regulatory approval." They hope to have the issue resolved by April.
The A220 has been one of the best selling aircraft recently, with large orders from Delta and JetBlue. These issues may cause some doubts when other carriers are deciding to purchase the aircraft.