The civil aviation regulator on Monday ordered private carriers IndiGo and GoAir for an immediate grounding of 11 of their Airbus A320 Neo aircraft (eight of IndiGo and three of GoAir) fitted with a particular series of Pratt and Whitney PW1100 engine type, keeping in view the safety of aircraft operations and recent occurrences of in-flight shutdown of these engines. This takes the total number of grounded aircraft to 14 — three with both engines impacted and rest with one engine impacted, as per the DGCA information. Essentially, this means that the recent grounding of 11 aircraft is of aircraft fitted with even a single engine of beyond 450 series. The A-320 Neos fitted with P&W1100 engines of a particular series, ESN No 450 and beyond, have been facing occurrences of aborted take-offs and in-flight shutdown globally and after an emergency airworthiness directive issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on February 9, which called for immediate grounding of any neo aircraft fitted with both engines of this series, the Indian regulator asked three IndiGo aircraft to be grounded. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday said that post the operational restrictions by EASA where engines fitted with serial numbers 450 were grounded, the authority had allowed flights of 11 of the these planes flying with only one impacted engine and the DGCA has been continuously in touch with both the stakeholders — Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer of A320 Neos, and US-based engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.
But as the discussions were on, with Pratt also informing about a fix to the problem that it has submitted to agencies for evaluation, there have been three more recent incidents of in-flight shutdowns in India on the Neos, two involving IndiGo flights and one of GoAir, on the planes fitted with one of the affected engines. Monday’s incident of an IndiGo flight which suffered an in-flight shutdown after take-off is the most recent one; the flight landed with full emergency declared, with all passengers safe. “In view of the above (incidents) and keeping in the safety of aircraft operations, A320 Neos fitted with PW1100 engines beyond ESN 450 have been grounded with immediate effect. Both IndiGo and GoAir have been told not to refit there engines , which are spare with them in their inventory,” the DGCA said in a press note. Meanwhile, in a late evening statement, Pratt & Whitney said: “We are working closely with our customers to minimise disruption. The corrective action has been approved and we have already begun to deliver production engines with the upgraded configuration. We are working to mitigate the AOG situation by the end of the second quarter.” Civil aviation experts have been saying that there needs to be a reassessment of risk perception on P&W Neo engine variants. Aviation expert and professional Shakti Lumba says that the DGCA has been a little cautious after the continuous occurrences on the Neo engines. “The DGCA has rightly taken a proactive view. It is the right move, after all, what were they waiting for?” The immediate grounding will impact operations of these airlines with cancellations and delays in the offing for the passengers. “We shall promptly comply with the directions of the DGCA. The affected passengers would be accommodated on other flights on our network. Safety is out top priority,” said IndiGo in a communication.
Source: Financial Express