- A Delta Air Lines A330-300 has been stranded in Barcelona after an engine failure during a flight to Atlanta, with passengers being accommodated on another plane.
- The aircraft had flown multiple international routes without issue before the incident, and Delta’s priority is ensuring the safety of its operations and apologizing for the delay to affected customers.
- Engine problems during flights are not uncommon, as seen with recent incidents involving Lufthansa, China Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and United Airlines.
A 20-year-old Delta Air Lines A330-300 has remained in Barcelona El Prat (BCN) since an engine failure on February 1st. At the time of the failure, the aircraft was attempting to fly to Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) as Delta flight 195, only to turn back and return to BCN about an hour after departure.
The problem was detected when the aircraft climbed to 27,000 ft; at this point, it maintained its speed, stopped its climb, and began a turnback to Barcelona over the city of Zaragoza. The aircraft landed safely in BCN shortly afterward.
Delta Air Lines told Simple Flying that the flight crew followed procedures to return to BCN after a performance issue with one engine was encountered after departure, adding that safety was the number one priority for its operation and apologizing to its customers on flight 195 for the delay.
About the aircraft
The aircraft, registered N803NW, had flown a round trip from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), arriving back to BCN the day earlier. The aircraft had been active on several international routes for all of January without issue.
Photo: James Andrews1 via Shutterstock
Delta would then use a 22-year-old 767-400ER that was initially scheduled to fly from Frankfurt Airport (FRA) to JFK to retrieve the passengers at BCN, arriving in Atlanta the next day. That flight occurred without incident, but it is unclear what would happen to the passengers initially scheduled to fly between FRA and JFK.
For its part, N803NW was originally delivered to Northwest Airlines in 2003. Two Pratt & Whitney engines power the A330-300, and the airline operates more than 30 of the type. The average age of a Delta A330-300 is 15 years old. Delta additionally operates a number of A330-200s and A330-900s alongside a fleet of A350s and Boeing widebody aircraft.
Engine problems around
Turnbacks on international flights are not uncommon, as aircrew closely monitor aircraft performance before crossing oceans. Days earlier, a Lufthansa A330-300 was also forced to return to FRA, making it all the way to the English Channel before the flight was discontinued due to an engine issue. That aircraft returned to the air on February 4th, making the long-haul flight to Manila, although it’s unclear why as the destination is not a Lufthansa route.
On January 20th, an 18-year-old A330-300 operated by China Airlines returned to Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) an hour after departing for Hong Kong (HKG) because of an issue with cabin pressurization once it reached its cruising altitude. That flight itself was a short-haul flight and arrived back at TPE 30 minutes before the aircraft would have arrived at HKG.
In the United States last week, two A321s, both a neo and ceo variant, had to return to their respective departure airports of Denver International Airport (DEN) and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) after engine problems. Those aircraft were in service with Frontier Airlines and United Airlines, operating domestic routes. In the case of United Airlines, the Airbus A321neo involved had only been in service for two weeks before the incident.