Aircalin, a carrier based in the Pacific island of New Caledonia, has withdrawn one of its new Airbus A330-900neo aircraft from service and has sent it back to Toulouse, France for further inspection.
The airline has reported that it sent the aircraft back after staff noticed a strong smell of oil. or as some have reported “smelly socks” within the cabin on flights. The crew had even complained of headaches, respiratory, and eye irritation, according to CAPA.
Employees from Airbus and Rolls Royce were flown out to New Caledonia to assist with the issue but were unable to identify the problem.
At about a month old, the A330-900 was delivered to the carrier in early October but was withdrawn from revenue service on October 29. The aircraft has since been used in test flights and finally flew to Toulouse this week.
Aircalin has received one other A330-900 and has not reported any issues with that specific aircraft as it is still in service.
Aircalin is not the first carrier to report such issues. Earlier this summer, TAP Air Portugal crew members reported similar symptoms due to odors in the cabin onboard TAP’s new A330neo aircraft.
After extensive investigations by Airbus and TAP, a link was unable to be found between the odors and illnesses experienced by crew.
Airbus ended up reporting that the smells may have come from the engines or air conditioning systems but did not rule out other potential causes for the issue.
A spokesperson for TAP also reported that the airline did not determine the odors to be toxic and pose no health risks. Airbus began to monitor the flights and stated that they will look for mitigating solutions.
One of the carrier’s older A330-200s will replace the grounded A330-900 in service, which will most likely minimize disruptions in operations. According to the carrier, the A330-200s were retained in anticipation of any issues that may come up with the A330neo variant.
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