|Groundhog Day Service........|
One of the first aircraft to join the Jet2 fleet, a thirty two year old aircraft - registration G-CELI - a Boeing 737-300 originally a disposal from the Lufthansa fleet, has made a second emergency diversion/landing in the space of two weeks after an indicator light flashed suggesting part of the passenger cabin was suffering from depressurisation, when no such fault happened.
The aircraft first entered service with Lufthansa - registration D-ABXE - in October 1986 and was acquired by Jet2 and repainted in its new livery in September 2004.
As the indicator light flashed, oxygen masks were automatically released. This naturally alarmed passengers, and as part of the emergency drill, the plane was diverted. Call it bad luck, but an earlier flight from Ibiza to Leeds using this same aircraft was also diverted to Barcelona on 16 July.
Julian Bray Aviation expert comments: Although this is an older aircraft type, in aviation terms it is relatively young, as aircraft components, tracked on a length in service basis, are constantly renewed, so in some cases, it is only the original airframe that is the oldest component, for many years this same aircraft was in the service of German airline Lufthansa.
As a passenger commercial aircraft, it is maintained to well defined and rigorous service schedules and was passed fit to fly. The experienced Jet2 pilots having completed their own pre-flight checks, were also content to take the aircraft out.
On this basis, I would be happy to be a passenger. The airline has now withdrawn the aircraft for an intensive engineering strip down and 'swap out' of the components concerned, in order to correct this recurring fault. It will then be bench and ground tested before returning to commercial service.
I also understand there was an incident in 2009 when the same aircraft pulled to the right on a runway. The culprit? A leaky steering metering valve, and that was the subject of a CAA field investigation. The pilot abandoned the flight, returned the aircraft to the stand and it was then taken out of service, for engineering and the CAA to investigate and fix the problem.
But back to our story: In the style of the film 'Groundhog Day' It happened all over again. On Friday, the aircraft diverted to Frankfurt. Jet2 said passenger safety had not been compromised, however passengers on both flights have been busy telling the media how oxygen masks were released as the aircraft began a rapid descent as would be the right response from the flight crew if indeed the passenger cabin had suffered a depressurisation, which of course, it has not.
Friday's flight had taken off from Newcastle bound for Prague, but it was diverted to Frankfurt after what Jet2 described as a "minor technical fault" that led to oxygen masks being deployed.
Philippa Bell, whose fiancé Joe Monkhouse was on the flight, told the Chronicle the plane went into a swift descent after the pilot informed passengers of an "emergency".
She said the oxygen masks came down and her fiancé felt his ears popping as the plane headed for Frankfurt Airport.
Describing the first flight from Ibiza, passenger Tom Miller told BBC Look North: "You're going down and there is so much panic. It levelled out but it felt so close to the water."
In a statement relating to Friday's flight Jet2 said: "Our flight crew followed procedure and made a controlled descent before landing safely. At all times the safety of our passengers is our number one priority... and at no point was the safety of passengers compromised."
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations Analyst/expert, ... Travel & Holiday Guru www.aviationcomment.com, ... http://www.freelancedirectory.org/user.php?user=8121 ... www.freelancedirectory.org?name=Julian.Bray.aviation.comment, ... Aviation / Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industries, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 ... SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476