India Threatens to Ground Airbus Jets After String of Engine Failures
(Bloomberg) -- Close to 30 Airbus SE A320neo jets operated by two Indian airlines will be grounded if they don’t update some Pratt & Whitney engines within 15 days, the nation’s aviation safety regulator said.
IndiGo, India’s biggest carrier, and rival Go Airlines India Ltd. won’t be allowed to fly planes fitted with two unmodified PW1100-series engines that have been in operation more than 2,900 hours, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said following three in-flight engine shutdowns on IndiGo planes last week.
Failing that, about 16 IndiGo jets would have to be idled, together with 13 at GoAir, the DGCA said in a statement Tuesday. The airlines together have more than 100 A320neo planes in their fleet.
Pratt & Whitney has suffered delivery delays and groundings in India after spending $10 billion on fuel-efficient geared-turbofan engines for single-aisle jets.
IndiGo, the biggest A320neo customer, decided in June to switch away from the United Technologies Corp. unit, ordering $20 billion of rival power-plants from the CFM venture of General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA. The company didn’t specify an engine type in a mammoth new order for the Airbus model also revealed Tuesday.
Indian aviation officials held a meeting with IndiGo executives Monday after visiting the airline to review maintenance and safety data in the wake of the in-flight failures. In August, the DGCA ordered IndiGo and GoAir to not accept planes without at least one modified version of the PW1100.
The latest glitches follow 15 in-flight shutdowns, turnarounds or rejected takeoffs that Indian carriers have experienced due to failure of the engine model’s low-pressure turbine in the three years through August, according to the DGCA. Among other carriers, state-owned Air India and Vistara haven’t been affected as its A320neos are all CFM-powered.
Pratt said in a statement that it’s working with airline customers to incorporate upgrades and improve the durability of the low pressure turbine in the PW1100G-JM engine.
“We certified hardware improvements which are incorporated into all new-production engines and during planned maintenance visits,” it said. “We are committed to supporting our customers to ensure minimal disruption during the fleet retrofit.”
An IndiGo spokeswoman said the airline continues to work with authorities and will take required action. Airbus is supporting its customer in its daily operations along with the engine maker, a company spokesman said.
Shares of InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., which operates IndiGo, fell 3% to 1,409.75 rupees at the close of trade in Mumbai. The benchmark S&P BSE Sensex index rose 1.5%.
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