Aircalin, also known as Air Calédonie International, is planning to return one of their A330neos to Airbus, due to an unpleasant smell that keeps entering the cabin.

The aircraft in question is F-ONET, which is one of two Airbus A330-900neos operated by Aircalin and was delivered to the airline in September.

RegistrationSerial NumberDelivery Date
F-ONEO1937July 2019
F-ONET1938September 2019

Grounded for two weeks, the problematic aircraft will shortly be flown to Toulouse, France to be inspected by Airbus engineers to determine the cause of the smell and an appropriate remedy.

Didier Tappero, the CEO of Aircalin, told media that “a smell of wet socks has repeatedly inconvenienced crew members during the takeoff and landing phases”.

Symptoms have included dizziness, vomiting and headaches during and after finishing flights.

Engineers collecting air samples of the cabin for analysis sent a report to Airbus; where it was determined that the air quality in the cabin was within standards and in accordance with international guidelines, relating to cabin air toxicity thresholds.

Aircalin to Return Smelly A330neo to Airbus
Aircalin Airbus A330neo Premium Economy

As an added safeguard, operating crews subject to the strange smell had blood samples taken to identify any anomalies. No reports of poor health conditions have come back from these tests.

Airbus and Rolls-Royce originally sent technicians to Noumea in an attempt to resolve the problem locally, however told the airline that they could not “solve this problem in a sustainable way”.

Rolls-Royce will likely be joining Airbus again in Toulouse to assess the aircraft, its engines and the systems involved in providing fresh, clean cabin air for passengers and crew.

Speaking to the AFP Asia Pacific region, an Airbus spokesperson said the following:

“We are working on a solution to solve odor problems in the cabin of a small number of Airbus A330neos in service.”

Sean Lee – Airbus

Similar problems have been reported with TAP Air Portugal and Air Senegal aircraft, which are all fairly recent deliveries.

Airbus and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have been aware of the issue since late May and are closely monitoring and conducting tests to resolve the smelly situation.

In the meantime, Aircalin will be flying classic A330s to compensate for the loss of one of their new Airbus A330-900neos.

What are your thoughts on this unusual occurrence?


Cover photo by Clement Alloing on Flickr

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