South-Pacific carrier Aircalin (Air Caledonie International) has been forced to return one of its brand new A330neos to Airbus after several complaints by crew members and passengers of “smelly socks”.
The culprit in the matter is their second A330-900 (registered as F-ONET) which is just about six-weeks old. Both staff and passengers reported the smell of oil, some saying it being reminiscent of “smelly socks”. Some crew members even experienced headaches, respiratory illnesses, and eye irritation.
The aircraft was delivered to Aircalin at the start of October 2019, but only stayed in commercial service for one month, after which it was withdrawn for testing purposes following the complaints received from those using the new jet. Both Airbus and Rolls-Royce officials flew down to New Caledonia island chain to conduct their own inspections, but were unable to determine the cause of the problem.
The aircraft was eventually finally ferried back to the Airbus factory in Toulouse on November 18 where further tests will be conducted.
In the mean time, Aircalin will maintain its scheduled flights with their lone A330-200 until the issue is resolved. The airline has stated that their other A330-900 (F-ONEO) has not encountered problems like this.
This is not the first time that the A330neo is in the news as TAP Air Portugal also experienced similar issues, even though the issue was put down to smells coming from the air-conditioning system.