Fabrice Bregier, chief executive officer of Airbus flight crew wave from the exit stairs after the debut flight of an Airbus A320neo aircraft. (Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg)

Pratt Gearbox Issue Said to Cause Airbus A320neo Grounding

(Bloomberg) -- An Airbus SE A320neo jet suffered an in-flight engine failure after a gearbox component malfunctioned, according to people familiar with the matter, marking the latest glitch to hit the Pratt & Whitney turbine.

The model’s biggest operator, Indian discount specialist IndiGo, said Wednesday it was forced to carry out an emergency landing in response to a loss of oil pressure during the flight on Monday.

The latest issue concerns an accessory gearbox and isn’t integral to the fan-drive gear system that makes the fuel-saving engine so innovative, said the people, who asked not to be named as the matter is under investigation.

Indigo, which didn’t specify what caused the fault or where it was located, told Bloomberg it grounded the plane and is conducting further checks. Airbus and Pratt & Whitney said they’re working to minimize disruption to the carrier.

The incident follows a run of issues that have afflicted Pratt-powered versions of the A320neo. The United Technologies Corp. unit has most recently been grappling with a faulty seal that triggered a three-month delivery halt, and instances of excessive vibration reported by pilots.

Airbus shares fell as much as 5.5 percent at market open Thursday, the biggest drop in more than two years, amid a volatile global equities market. The stock was trading down 1.4 percent at 97.60 euros as of 9:50 a.m. in Paris. UTC closed down 3.5 percent at $131.12 on Wednesday.

It’s not yet clear whether the event at InterGlobe Aviation Ltd.’s IndiGo is related to earlier problems or indicates a new fault, though evidence so far suggests it may be a one-off for the A320, according to the people. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, which uses a variant of the same engine, suffered an incident last year that may have involved the accessory gearbox.

The captain of the Indigo service to Ahmedabad turned the A320 around and diverted back to Bangalore following the oil-pressure warning from one of the jet’s two engines, according to Indigo.

Shares of the budget carrier rose as much as 7.6 percent on Thursday in Mumbai after India cut the excise duty on jet fuel.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.