New Delhi, Mar 13: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday ordered grounding of 11 Airbus A320neo aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney engines following the third instance of mid-air scare due to engine failures in two weeks. Of the 11 Airbus A320neo aircraft, eight are operated by IndiGo and three by GoAir.
“…keeping in mind the safety of aircraft operations, A320neos fitted with PW1100 engines beyond engine serial number 450 have been grounded with immediate effect. Both IndiGo and GoAir have been told not to refit these engines, which are spare with them in their inventory,” the DGCA said in a release.
Speaking to Times of India, Air safety expert Capt Mohan Ranganathan said that the “DGCA shouldn’t have waited this long to ground the aircraft”. “It’s time we realised that passenger safety is more important than commercial requirements,” he further added.
The civil aviation regulator’s directive came a few hours after an IndiGo aircraft, on the Ahmedabad-Lucknow route, made an emergency landing following a mid-air engine failure. The right engine of an IndiGo A320neo aircraft, carrying 186 passengers and crew, forcing the pilot to call for an emergency landing.
Citing safety concerns, the aviation regulator said that it has not got a “firm commitment” from the US engine manufacturer, Pratt & Whitney, forcing it to ground 11 IndiGo, GoAir aircraft. (Also Read: Collision Between Vistara, Air India Flights Averted by a Few Seconds in Mumbai)
“P&W, in their latest communication, has also not given any firm commitment as to when the issue on the engine… will be resolved, and informed that all the affected engines will be replaced by early June 2018. There is no concrete proposal in place at this stage to address the issue,” it added.
The problems with the aircraft fitted with PW1100G engines was first flagged by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) last month. “EASA has informed that they are evaluating some interim proposals and will be revising the emergency airworthiness directive in due course, as soon as the current affected engines will be modified with a safer interim design,” the release said.
Sources said that IndiGo and GoAir were aware of the DGCA’s decision of grounding 11 aircraft. The directive which was issued at around 4.30 PM read that 320neos fitted with PW engines beyond ESN 450 would be grounded with immediate effect.
Although eight grounded aircraft are operated by IndiGo, an IndiGo spokesperson said the airline will ground only six aircraft. He added that three were grounded last month after the EASA orders. To this, the DGCA said that IndiGo’s three aircraft with faulty engines were grounded last month but eight aircraft with only one faulty engine were allowed to operate with certain restrictions.