SriLankan Airlines lost certification granted to the airline “to conduct A320neo and A321neo aircraft on ETOPS with 90 minutes diversion time”, following an order from the CAA of Sri Lanka.
The directive was the result of an CFM engine shut down during a flight from Colombo to Hong Kong on 21 January 2018 operated by an A321neo, serial 7891. The flight was diverted to Bangkok, after the airline detected debris in the engine's oil monitoring system.
The safety lapse is considered very serious, according to the CAA.
Flights to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Canton, now must comply with the 60 minutes ETOPS rule, meaning the A320/A321neos used on the routes must fly an extra 1.5 hours both ways, as well as carry an extra 2000 KGs of fuel in order to meet compliance.
A total of five NEOS have been affected, with the route to Canton already operating with an alternative aircraft -- an A330.
SriLankan is seeking to restore the certification, however regulators are still not satisfied with recent maintenance inspections. The regulators also questioned the logic of the airline for releasing serial 7891 back into operation following the incident.
Despite the airline being notified on 05 January 2018 by CFM of the an issue in the oil debris monitoring system, SriLankan Engineering did not examine the engine until 19 January 2018, causing concern for CASSL, as they sought to prevent an in-flight shutdown.
To regain ETOPS certification, SriLankan must pass a through audit by CASSL.
SriLankan claims that the in-flight engine shutdown on 21 January was due to a manufacturing defect in the CFM engine, and not a lapse in maintenance. The airline is also seeking reasons for the failure from CFM International.
SriLankan Engineering expects ETOPS re-certification soon, pending CAASL approval.