Passengers troubled after DGCA grounds 14 A320neo aircraft

13 Mar 2018 by Neha Gupta Kapoor
A320neo with Pratt and Whitney engines

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has grounded 14 A320neo aircraft fitted with faulty Pratt and Whitney engines – PW1100. Of the total grounded aircraft, 11 are from IndiGo and three from GoAir.

GoAir confirmed to Business Traveller India that the grounded three aircraft have led to the cancellation of 18 flights originating from eight cities. The list of cities hasn’t been shared with us yet.

As for IndiGo, the website has listed 47 cancelled flights originating from Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Jammu, Kolkata, Kochi, Mumbai, Nagpur, Patna, Raipur, Ranchi, Trivandrum, Vadodara and Varanasi. See flight details here.

Vistara has an all-A320neo fleet, but they are fitted with engines form a different company.

DGCA’s order came yesterday, after a Lucknow-bound flight from Ahmedabad had to return to the airport within 40 minutes after take off due to engine troubles.

Kinjal Shah, VP-corporate ratings at ICRA, a member of the Rating Committee of the company, throws more light on the situation: “Since their induction into the fleet of a couple of airlines, A320neos have faced several glitches, primarily with their engines, and they have remained grounded for several months in the past. Furthermore, there have been delays in deliveries of the pending order of neo aircraft. However, over the last few months, the airlines have received spare engines from the engine manufacturers, facilitating them to start operating those aircraft. With their grounding, the airlines have definitely had an impact on the number of passengers carried and thus revenues. Currently, the total grounded aircraft are 14, which is three per cent of the total fleet of Indian airlines. Considering PLF (passenger load factor) [at] 85 per cent [of the total seats on Indian airlines], the impact on passenger traffic growth of the industry would be 2.5 per cent. However, the airlines have been compensated by the manufacturers for the loss of revenue due to the grounding of the planes and expenses associated with delay in deliveries. Thus, profitability of the airlines has not been impacted on account of grounding of these aircraft. That said, if this situation continues and the airlines are not able to operate these aircraft for long, it will result in continued flight cancellations. The airlines may also have to place fresh orders for new aircraft to fill in the gaps. Further, these neo aircraft were expected to be 15 per cent more fuel efficient than the existing aircraft, which was one of the key future profitability drivers for these airlines. If the airlines are not able to induct new aircraft with similar fuel efficiency, it might impact their profitability improvement plans.”

On February 9, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had issued Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD), stating the reason as: “Several occurrences of engine in-flight shut-down (IFSD) and Rejected Take-Off (RTO) have been reported on certain Airbus A320neo family aeroplanes.”

It has imposed operational restrictions against flying an aeroplane with two affected engines within three flight cycles. The EAD can be viewed here.

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