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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an airworthiness directive on March 25 for all Pratt & Whitney PW1519G, PW1521G, PW1521G-3, PW1521GA, PW1524G, PW1524G-3, PW1525G, and PW1525G-3 model turbofan engines.
The order affects operators of the Airbus A220 family and instructs them to upgrade specific full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) software following a series of in-flight shutdowns (IFSDs) that prompted investigation by the authority.
This latest directive from the FAA, which takes effect on April 15, follows an emergency interim airworthiness directive issued by Transport Canada in October 2019, which directed pilots to limit PW1500G-series engine thrust at altitudes over 29,000 feet. At the time, the Canadian regulator said preliminary investigation pointed to problems occurring during high altitude climbs at higher engine thrust settings. “This condition, if not corrected, could lead to an uncontained failure of the engine and damage to the aeroplane,” said Transport Canada.
Three of the previous engine shutdowns happened on Swiss Air flights last year, forcing the carrier to temporarily ground its A220 fleet for inspection. The fourth incident occurred in February 2020 on an airBaltic flight, prompting the carrier to re-route and shut down the left engine mid-flight.
In its latest directive, the FAA noted the IFSDs occurred due to failure of the low-pressure compressor rotor 1 (LPC R1). It said the condition, if not addressed, could damage both the engine and aircraft and could cause loss of control during flight.
To date, Airbus has delivered 113 A220 family aircraft to operators, with four of those going to Air Canada. A total of 658 A220s have been ordered.
Find the FAA AD here.