Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Swiss airline grounded its fleet of Airbus SE A220 jets after the latest incident with Pratt & Whitney engines forced a London-Geneva flight to land in Paris.
Lufthansa’s Swiss unit, the world’s biggest operator of the narrow-body aircraft, suspended flights Tuesday to carry out inspections, according to an airline spokesman. Its 29 A220s account for a quarter of the Swiss fleet, and the carrier will have to cancel some flights.
France’s safety authority, the Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses, called the event concerning the Pratt & Whitney engine “serious” and said an investigation has been turned over to the National Transport Safety Board in the U.S.
Swiss’s A220s have suffered multiple incidents in recent months, including on July 25 when a flight from Geneva to London experienced engine failure after part of the turbine disintegrated over Paris. Another service from Zurich to Dusseldorf had to turn around earlier the same month, also due to a turbine problem.
Pratt & Whitney, a division of Farmington, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp., developed the fuel-efficient geared turbofan in an effort to reestablish its presence in powering narrow-body planes. But the GTF’s debut has been marred by a series of teething problems, including a 2014 failure when an engine caught fire during testing of the A220, a plane that was formerly known as the Bombardier Inc. C Series.
The engines were also one of the options for the Airbus’s best-selling A320 family jets. Glitches on those models have largely been ironed out as the installed fleet grew bigger. The A220, however, is a niche aircraft for regional services and Airbus has delivered less than 100 worldwide.
Swiss said it’s talking with regulators, Pratt & Whitney and Airbus about the issues. It’s also investigating what happened during Tuesday’s incident.
“Together with the engine maker we are supporting our customer in its daily operations,” an Airbus spokesman said by email. In a separate statement, Pratt said the engines “continue to meet all criteria for continued airworthiness.” It advised additional inspections.
As of Sept. 30, Airbus had delivered 20 A220-300 models to Swiss, as well as nine of the smaller A220-100 variants. Airbus acquired control of the A220 program from Montreal-based Bombardier last year.
Pratt’s PW1900G engine is also used on the Embraer SA E195-E2, the first of which was just delivered last month to Azul and AerCap. Other large A220 operators are Air Baltic, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Korean Air Lines Co.