On This Day - 5 Years Ago a A220 Engine Exploded (CSeries)
May 29, 2014 engine #1 of Bombardier CSeries FTV1 exploded while the aircraft was on the ground and operated by Pratt & Whitney employee.
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1:00AM - (05:00 UTC) May 29, 2019, Quebec, Canada - by Sylvain Faust for Fliegerfaust.com
On 29 May 2014, a Bombardier C series CS100, registration C-FBCS, serial number 50001, with 2 pilots and 4 test engineers on board was conducting engine ground runs at the Montréal International (Mirabel) Airport, Quebec.
During the test, at 1837 Eastern Daylight Time, the left engine (Pratt & Whitney Canada model PW1524G) experienced a sudden power loss caused by an uncontained turbine rotor failure
Do you remember where you were when you learned that an engine had exploded on a Bombardier CSeries aircraft / Airbus A220?
I do… and I remember who told me on the phone looking for a confirmation for his article in The Wall Street Journal by Jon Ostrower who was the first one to find out and release the news. He now manages The Air Current aviation related web site. For once I was not listening to the communications "Tower" at Mirabel airport. I learned it after the fact, how could I have missed this... Still, I was happy to know that it happened while the aircraft was on the ground, not in flight and that nobody got hurt on the ground.
That particular engine was the first ever built GTF (Geared Turbo Fan) engine that Pratt & Whitney delivered to a customer. It was a PW1500 delivered to Bombardier for its first CSeries test aircraft, or FTV1 (Flight Test Vehicle #1). It was engine P101 if I recall. FTV1 also had another PW1500 engine as its engine #2, right wing.
Side Note: Engine #1 is the engine on the left side (left wing) of the aircraft. Since the CSeries is a dual engine aircraft its right wing has its engine is #2. On a Boeing 747 or Airbus A340, aircraft with 4 engines, the far out left wing engine is #1. Then closer to the aircraft is #2. Then on the other side of the aircraft, on the right wing, the first engine, the one closest to the aircraft is engine #3. The last one at the end of the right wing is engine #4… Now you know, if you did not.
Now back to our "explosive" story...
That particular engine, the first GTF engine model ever delivered by Pratt & Whitney had some issues since it made its first flight. We're talking about the FTV1 aircraft still. That particular engine was burning too much oil. But engine #2 was fine. It was not enough oil to prevent the test team from doing more flights but Bombardier engineers with Pratt & Whitney specialists decided to take a look at FTV1 engine #1 sometimes later when they have time to spare.
More CSeries test aircraft (FTVs) were flying (FTV1, FTV2, FTV3 and FTV4) using more delivered PW1500 engines. All was fine with those engines, burning oil on their first ever "crank" which was accepted as "normal" but no oil burning issue during their flights. Still, after each flight, FTV1 engine #1 was burning too much oil.
Total CSeries flight recapitulation at the time FTV1 engine #1 exploded was:
- CSeries FTV1 had completed 66 flights,
- FTV2 27 flights completed,
- FTV3 about 20 flights and,
- FTV4 4 flights.
The day before the event, on May 28 2014, an oil sample from that FTV1 engine #1 was sent to the designers at Pratt & Whitney in the US. As you probably know, by analyzing if any microscopic metal alloy is contain in the oil would help provide the identification of a specific engine part to investigate and to help put some light on what was going on inside that particular engine since day 1. Also, an oil pump was also replaced that day on that engine.
May 29, 2014 is the day an engine exploded.
May 29, 2014 is the day an engine exploded while attached under the wing of a CSeries, now renamed A220 by Airbus since its acquisition of over 50% of the program from Bombardier and Quebec government.
Read the full accident investigation report made by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), it is very interesting and has many pictures.
From what I was told, Pratt & Whitney did pay some of the cost, if not all of it... for the repair of FTV1... But Bombardier lost many months pushing the delivery date of the first CSeries even further out.
Sylvain Faust, Fliegerfaust