Air Tanzania A220 Fleet Grounded Due to Engine Problems – An Expected Ordeal? 

Passengeres disembark from an Air Tanzania Airbus A220
Kelvin Mwanasoko, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – Air Tanzania has been marred with mismanagement since its heyday. Is it now catching up? Or is it a series of unfortunate events which led to the grounding of their modern Airbus A220 fleet? 

The Tanzanian flag carrier, Air Tanzania is the latest carrier to succumb to A220s problems, which forced the airline to ground the aircraft type indefinitely due to a technical problem with its engines. The problem, however, traces back as far as the year 2014. 

Air Tanzania has made a statement on its Pratt & Whitney engines: “Due to the worldwide technical challenges of the PW1524G-3 engines used in Airbus A220-300 aircraft and in accordance with safety requirements, we have been following professional guidelines to provide the best and safe service. And sometimes we take the planes out.” 

This has inevitably led the airline to shave and cancel some flights depending on aircraft availability. The airline also pointed blamed the engine manufacturer that it had prolonged reliability issues with the Pratt & Whitney GTF turbofan engines negatively impacting the A220 operations.

As of this moment, the deep technicalities of the fault on the engines not go deep the technicalities of the engines on the aircraft engine itself nor did the airline indicate a timeline for which these matters will be resolved. 

Ladislaus Matindi AirInsight, Chief Executive Officer, stated: “Until the engines are in the repair shop, we cannot know exactly when we shall get relief. And because this problem is not particular to Air Tanzania but applies to all operators of the GTF, there are not even enough spare engines to keep us going as the affected engines visit the repair shop.” 

So it is not Air Tanzania’s fault after all

The problem with the engines dates back to 2014 when the A220 was called the C-Series. At that time Bombardier owned the C-Series which was still at an early stage of launch. On May 29th of that year during a test flight, there was an uncontained engine failure in which parts parted from the main engine, promoting scare.

Bombardier then led an investigation which took 3 months and quietly buried findings and did not expose much information. The aeroplane was flying normally again when deliveries to airlines were made. At this stage, engine problems were not the centre of attention. 

Until it bites back…  

Indeed after many years of burial, in December 2018, an incident occurred with Korean Air A220. The plane suffered an engine low-pressure compressor which forced the Korean flag carrier to turn back. Yet another in June 2019, where a Delta Airlines A220 had to perform a go-around at New York’s La Guardia due to asymmetrical power where the left engine did not deliver full power.

The launch customer Swiss International Airlines also had issues on 25th July and 16 September, where their A220s had to be delivered after a low-pressure compressor disintegrated on both flights.  This shows that the C-Series programme has shown its incompetence in speaking out, which leads airlines like Air Tanzania to bear their own financial brunt.

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