IndiGo Gets More Time To Replace Pratt & Whitney Engines On Airbus A320neo Planes
A protective cover sits on a wing engine fitting of an IndiGo aircraft. (Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg)  

IndiGo Gets More Time To Replace Pratt & Whitney Engines On Airbus A320neo Planes


India’s civil aviation regulator has extended the deadline for IndiGo to replace all 135 unmodified Pratt & Whitney engines on Airbus A320neo planes to May 31.

The earlier deadline was Jan. 31, 2020. The Pratt & Whitney engine-powered A320neo planes in the fleets of IndiGo and GoAir have been facing glitches both mid-air and on-ground since their induction in 2016.

Four ‘Air Turn Back/Inflight Shut Down' events were witnessed on IndiGo’s A320neo aircraft within one week in October 2019 due to the failure of the 3rd stage LPT (low-pressure turbine) blades.

Stating that "desperate measures" were required to "put things in order", the DGCA had on Nov. 1 told IndiGo to replace the Pratt & Whitney engines in 97 A320neo aircraft "at all costs" by Jan. 31 or they would be grounded.

In some aircraft, only one of the Pratt & Whitney engines is unmodified and has to be replaced. Later, unsatisfied with IndiGo's speed in replacing the unmodified engines, DGCA on Nov. 25 instructed it to ground an old A320neo plane with an unmodified Pratt & Whitney engine for every new A320neo plane added to its fleet to prevent large-scale cancellation of flights from Jan. 31 onwards.

On Monday, DGCA said that it believes that the unmodified Pratt & Whitney engines do contain an "unsafe condition, which is prone to undesirable outcomes" and therefore, needs to be dispensed with.

"Post DGCA order dated Nov. 1, 2019, all stakeholders i.e. the airline and the aircraft and the engine manufacturer have made significant efforts towards completion of the task. They have jointly and severally submitted a complete action plan, which finds the change of engines for the entire fleet feasible by the end of June 2020," said the regulator in a statement.

"It involves procurement of about 135 engines and month-wise details have been worked out to achieve the goal. Needless to say, the timeline looks impressive if we recall that originally it was expected to be accomplished in 14 months i.e. from November 2019 to December 2020," it added.

However, DGCA felt that it can be compressed further and should be achievable by May 2020. "Therefore, the revised timeline for the complete removal of unmodified engines from the fleet is May 31st, 2020. It is further laid down that no aircraft with unmodified engine in Indigo fleet shall be allowed to fly after that," said the regulator on Monday.

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