A Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 flying to Medellín, Colombia from Fort Lauderdale, Florida had its journey cut short when the crew decided to head back to the departing airport on June 20th. It has since been revealed that the return was due to vibrations on the flight controls.
The Spirit A320-200 holds registration N646NK, and it was performing flight NK237. According to The Aviation Herald, the narrowbody was traveling at FL350 at approximately 160 NM south of Fort Lauderdale when the crew members requested an early descent. This move meant that the controller needed to communicate with control staff in Havana, Cuba. Nonetheless, the plane made its return to Spirit’s Florida base.
The pilots declared that there was an emergency amid the flight control vibrations. Thus, on approach, they shared that they did not want to encounter any bad weather and were keen to go around any challenging conditions.
There were even further concerns as there were indications that the A320 was going to land while overweight. So, the crew members requested emergency services to be on stand-by.
A safe landing
Thankfully, the aircraft landed at Fort Lauderdale with no reported injuries following its initial departure. The plane touched down safely on the airport’s runway 10L.
According to ch-aviation, N646NK performed its first flight on March 15th, 2016, and was delivered to Spirit on April 1st of the same year. The plane has performed over 17,000 flight hours, with Spirit as its sole operator. The jet forms part of a fleet consisting of over 160 other Airbus A320 family aircraft.
Flight control issues have been in the spotlight in recent weeks. Earlier this month reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now requires Boeing 737 MAX operators to make regular checks on the jet’s flight control systems. This directive follows the advice given by the plane’s manufacturer in December, recommending checks every 6,000 flight hours. Overall, 461 aircraft are estimated to be affected, with 72 units based in the United States.
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Plenty of potential
Spirit has been focusing heavily on flights to Colombia recently. The South American country has seen a flurry of services from the United States due to its diverse offerings and relaxed entry requirements amid the pandemic. With this momentum, Spirit is working on daily flights to Medellín, Barranquilla, Cali, and Bogotá this year. The carrier will undoubtedly be keen to address any flight control issues ahead of this ramp-up.
Simple Flying reached out to Spirit for comment on this incident. We will update the article with any further updates from the airline.
What are your thoughts about this Spirit Airlines Airbus A320 returning to Fort Lauderdale following flight control vibrations? Have you experienced anything similar on your travels? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.