ANOTHER Delta Flight Diverts Because of Engine Problems. Do You Feel Safe Flying Delta Jets?

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A Delta MD-88 and its engines being worked on at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Three Delta Air Lines flights during the last ten days have suffered engine problems and diverted course. (That’s as often as Delta issues weather waivers for New York City airports! :- ) ) Engine trouble certainly isn’t uncommon; but mid-air engine failures shouldn’t exactly be routine.

The first was August 10 when Atlanta-bound Delta 1457 left Greenville/Spartanburg — but returned about 45 minutes later when the MD-88’s left engine quit working.

Then this past Saturday, August 10, flight 651 from Providenciales in Turks and Caicos set a course for Atlanta. At 34,000 feet, the crew had to shut down the A320’s right engine and divert to Nassau.

The very next day, Delta 122 from Boston to Edinburgh diverted to Portland because of an engine compressor stall. That plane was a 757.

Aviation blog Flight Deck Friend notes, “Safety statistics suggest that less than one in every one million flights will have an engine failure or forced engine shutdown in the air or on the ground. This works out at approximately 25 such failures a year across commercial aviation.”

Which makes three in less than two weeks on one airline a little disconcerting.

Yes, twin-engine planes are designed to fly on one engine in the event one fails or is shut down. But the frequency of these incidents is a tad startling, yes?

Is Delta doing some weird Allegiant Air impersonation or something? (Low blow, sorry. 😉 )

What’s Causing These Problems?

Commercial pilot Robert Katz discussed the August 10 incident with WSPA’s Diane Lee and told her, “I’m concerned there may have been neglected maintenance on this engine. These engines are extremely expensive. And it’s really easy for the bean counters to cut corners.”

What Do You Think?

I anticipate always favoring commercial air travel — including Delta, for now — over automobile, rail and bus.

But are you at all concerned over the spike in Delta engine troubles? Please share in the Comments section below your thoughts and insights!

6 comments

  1. No, I’m not concerned.

    I like this blog because it avoids TPG-like headlines. Let’s not head in that direction please.

  2. Delta (the whole industry in the U.S. really) seems obsessed with stats like on-time performance and completions. In 2017, I had a couple of experiences that made me question if Delta was putting too much emphasis on statistics.

    A CRJ-900 flight from CLT to JFK was in a horrible line for takeoff. We were No. 25 or something. The pilot complained on the PA but said he had an idea. Next thing we were taking the Runway 18L “midfield,” not at the end of the runway. There was probably 7,000′ of runway to use which should satisfy the requirements for clearing a 35′ obstacle or stopping safely if one engine fails on takeoff in a CRJ-900. But if a engine had failed, one or more other problems at the same time could have made a safe outcome dicey. All other planes including several AA CRJs were waiting to use the entire runway.

    Then later that year Delta issued a press release bragging about zero flight cancellations in November. But I’d been booked on a SIN – NRT Delta flight that was cancelled, or so we were told. In a footnote to the press release Delta explained:

    “Delta operated 16 mainline international flights on a delayed basis during the month via substitute flights using Delta aircraft with an alternate flight number.”

    Say what?

    So, to answer your question, yes. Stuff like the events I witnessed personally and the recent in-flight engine failures make me unsure of the validity of airline operational claims and statistics and question if Delta’s top priority is safety or having good stats and being willing to cut corners on safety and fudge facts from time to time to make the stats look good.

  3. It’s hard to convince me flights don’t take off with a lot of small issues or maintenance is not fully adhere to. Most of us fly Delta because of on-time performance and that comes at risks given how short each turnaround is. Flown enough Delta flights and I know they leave with a lot of issues unfixed though I am not an expert at the severity of the issues and assume they are OK to takeoff with. That said, numbers don’t lie – Delta has had more than normal amount of issues.

  4. So am I…worried that is. On the 25th of July when I was flying from London to Atlanta on a morning flight, our flight was delayed for 1-1/2 hours for the strangest reason…no cleaning crew. Then after we were finally allowed to board, we were told to put away all our electronics several times over the space of 30-45 minutes because we would be leaving momentarily. After this happened 3-4 times, we were still sitting at the gate and given no reason for it. Finally, after about 30-45 minutes, we finally backed away from the gate. All the delays made me think there was something else going on and not just the lack of a cleaning crew to ready the plane.

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