Last week was probably the most intense day for Philippine-bound flights from Seoul/Incheon as Philippine Airlines also made a diversion. Just a day ago, on December 1, Cebu Pacific Air bound for Cebu (CEB) suffered a cabin pressurization system malfunction during the flight. And the following morning, another flight got an issue.
Philippine Airlines A321 Diverts Due To Hydraulic Issue
On Friday, December 2, 2022, Philippine Airlines flight PR467 registered as RP-C9912 was operating its daily scheduled flight from Seoul (ICN) to Manila (MNL). The aircraft used was an eight-year-old Airbus A321.
The flight departed as scheduled at 8:23 AM in the morning. However, just after six minutes into the flight, as the aircraft reached nearly 10,000ft, it suffered a hydraulic failure and immediately went into a holding pattern beside Incheon International Airport to burn fuel before diverting back.
The airline spent further two more hours trying to fix the hydraulic issue as well as burning fuel before safely returning back to Incheon International Airport.
There were 193 passengers and crew members on the flight, of which some of the passengers were those on Cebu Pacific’s flight 5J129 which diverted to Incheon International Airport while inbound to Cebu due to cabin pressurization system malfunction.
The Cebu Pacific passengers who were re-accommodated by Philippine Airlines experienced another chilling flight experience.
Cause Of Philippine Airlines A321 Hydraulic Issue Unknown
The airline did not make a statement yet regarding last week’s diversion and it is still unclear which hydraulic system had issues. But An official at Incheon International Airport said,
“The airline decided to return because there was a problem with the hydraulic system of the aircraft’s power transmission system.”
The aircraft’s hydraulic system serves a critical function in powering important systems such as the landing gears, flight controls, brakes, and thrust reverses. It is probably one of the systems that are linked with the hydraulics that were probably having issues on the Philippine Airlines flight.
Returning back to Incheon, the mechanic team arrived and did maintenance on the affected part. The aircraft eventually flew back as PR5469 the next morning to Manila without an issue. It is unclear whether the aircraft carried passengers after it was fixed since most of them were rechecked to the evening flight operated by Airbus A350. Based on the aircraft schedule, the affected aircraft departed for Bangkok the same evening after arriving in Manila.
Numerous Incidents With Airbus Recently
Though it is not linked directly, there seem to be quite a few incidents recently involving Airbus aircraft. There were back-to-back issues with Airbus A320 and A321 last week and Korean Air’s A330s engine issues. Whether it is maintenance issues or manufacturing defects, there surely needs to be a thorough investigation for the safety of the passengers.
Philippine Airlines suffered a hydraulic malfunction on a flight from Seoul to Manila on December 2. This was the second consecutive diversion by a Philippines-registered airline since Cebu Pacific diverted the night before due to cabin pressurization system failure.
I am sure passengers on board were in concern as the aircraft had to spend hours circling around before landing back at the airport. On top of that, some passengers who were re-accommodated to this Manila-bound flight were the ones on Cebu Pacific Air. What a scary encounter for them to have experienced two diversions.