Spain probes dual cowl incident on Iberia A320

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Spanish authorities are investigating an incident in which both engine cowls on an Iberia Airbus A320 were damaged after apparently opening during flight, an event which led at least to part of one cowl falling from the aircraft.

The flight was operating from Madrid to Bilbao when the incident occurred, prompting the crew to return to the Spanish capital.

A spokeswoman for Iberia insists that a cowl section fell only from the right CFM International CFM56 engine, although photographs of the aircraft purportedly taken at Madrid clearly show substantial damage to the cowls on both powerplants.

These images of the jet – a three-year old International Lease Finance (ILFC)-owned aircraft registered as EC-HTD – also indicate minor damage to the right side of the vertical fin, possibly from a debris strike.

“A piece was falling [from the A320],” says the spokeswoman. “But it was only the engine cover, not part of the engine. Even though there was no [safety] problem [with the aircraft] it came back to Madrid.”

Iberia says that it is investigating the 11 May incident and that it is too early to draw conclusions. Airbus narrowbodies have, however, suffered a spate of incidents over the past decade involving cowl doors accidentally left unlatched after closure. These incidents have driven the manufacturer to consider methods to minimise the risk of such an oversight – by increasing the conspicuousness of the latches, for example, or installing a cockpit alarm.