During a recent inspection in India, engineers have found that Pratt and Whitney engines of the recently acquired A320neo aircraft aren’t functioning to their full capacity or how they should be running.
Currently, Air India, GoAir, IndiGo and Vistara in India operate the A320neo aircraft. However, only GoAir and IndiGo have engines from Pratt and Whitney. The other two airlines have engines from different manufacturers.
In February, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had requested Indigo and GoAir to inspect and report results of the Pratt and Whitney engines powering their A320neo aircraft. This was to be done after the aircraft complete 1,000 hours of flying, as opposed to the recommended 1,500 hours by the engine manufacturer.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has said that finding a snag in the Pratt and Whitney engines has certainly raised concerns for safety. This is why the DGCA has ordered both airlines to ground their A320neo aircraft with potentially problematic engines. Not doing so would be “risking lives”, says the aviation minister.
On enquiring if this has affected them in any way, a GoAir official told Business Traveller India, “It definitely makes a difference to our flight schedules.” Out of the five A320neo in its fleet, two have been grounded. “Sectors have been rerouted and certain ones have been cancelled.”
Indigo too has had to cancel a number of flights following the order to ground eight of its A320neo aircraft. Thereafter the airline circulated a detailed announcement on the engine problem and what’s being done about it: “Regrettably, the Pratt and Whitney engines on this new aircraft have two specific components that start to wear out sooner than they should and as a result those engines need to be replaced much earlier than the normal replacement cycle for engines.”
Contradicting concerns of the aviation minister, IndiGo goes on to say, “While not a safety issue, we report all the relevant data on these engines to the DGCA and they are also continuously monitoring these issues as part of their oversight authority and responsibility. Pratt and Whitney is working to resolve these design issues on their worldwide fleet of engines and, we believe that the final design changes will be implemented over the next 12 to 18 months. At the same time, Pratt and Whitney is struggling to provide sufficient spare engines to its worldwide customer base, which results in parking some aircraft due to lack of spare engines.”