A single Air France A318 featured in two separate incidents last week, forcing its crew to divert. There were no injuries in either event.
The A318 is the rarest of all the single-aisle Airbus variants. Air France still has a dozen of them, out of an original order for 18. Some see it as a niche model, but it’s good for very “skinny” routes. And with low passenger counts in the pandemic, these planes have seen a fair bit of use. The one we see here had been flying regularly in previous days. So this doesn’t appear to be a case of a plane facing issues after coming out of storage.
The first of the two incidents came when the A318 and its crew were to perform flight AF-362V. This would be from Paris Orly Airport (LFPO) in France to Algiers Houari Boumediene Airport (DAAG) in Algeria. The flight took off uneventfully and reached a cruising altitude of FL330. It was most of the way to its destination, close to Barcelona (LEBL) in Spain when the electrical generator on the left-hand engine failed.
The crew decided to return to Paris. They landed back in Orly airport three hours and twenty minutes after departure. Unfortunately, the airline had to cancel the return flight. Between the two incidents, Air France crews used this A318 to perform six seemingly uneventful flights. The first incident was that aircraft’s first flight, on the 20th of January.
Air France A318 – Two Unrelated Incidents?
The second of the two incidents would have been the last of the flights that this A318 would make on the 21st. It was flight AF-7470. Like before, it would depart from Paris Orly, this time heading to Perpignan Rivesaltes Airport (LFMP) in France. This flight had 50 passengers and crew on board. And like the previous incident, the flight would depart from Orly’s runway 24.
Of the two incidents the A318 was involved in, this was by far the shortest. The flight crew had to stop their climb at 3,000 feet. This was because the right engine began to surge. The crew shut down the engine, and quickly returned back to Orly, landing on runway 25. There was smoke coming from the right engine, as the plane stopped on the ground. Air France rebooked the passengers to other flights.
There isn’t any apparent connection between the two incidents that this unfortunate A318 suffered. One was a generator failure on one engine, the other a surge, on the other. The latter failure can occur due to a bird strike, shortly after takeoff. Whatever the reason, this aircraft has not flown since the incident. At this writing, it has been on the ground for nearly been four days since the second incident flight.
This Air France Airbus A318-111 has tail number F-GUGP and is just over fifteen years old. Air France is its first and only operator, since its first flight in 2006. The airline is progressively replacing these jets and its A319s with A220-300s.