Five days after DGCA asked IndiGo to replace Pratt and Whitney (PW) engines of 16 A320neo planes in 15 days, the aviation regulator on Friday ordered the budget carrier to replace 97 twin-engined Airbus A320neo family aircraft with new PW power units following recent inflight engine shutdowns.
The @DGCAIndia has also told @IndiGo6E that it will have to replace engines of all 97 A320neos in its fleet by January, & if the airline were to fail to comply, will see grounding of all these aircraft pic.twitter.com/tMjzCZhuEa
— CNBC-TV18 (@CNBCTV18Live) November 1, 2019
The incidents have caused “serious concern” and the decision to order the engines be replaced was taken after “considerable deliberations,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) reported Reuters citing a statement of the regulator.
“You will appreciate that four successive events have not happened ever before and therefore, we call for urgent and effective action. We regret the inconvenience but we need desperate measures to put things in order,” the DGCA said.
“This situation cannot be allowed to go on indefinitely,” it said, adding that the engines would need to be replaced by 31 January 2020.
Meanwhile, the DGCA said that 7 more of IndiGo’s planes have been found to have the same issue taking the total to 23. It directed the airline to replace PW engines of 23 A320neo planes by 19 November or else they would be grounded.
Of the 97 aircraft, 23 have PW engines that have been used for more than 2,900 hours and have to be replaced in the first tranche by 19 November.
The DGCA directive came after IndiGo faced four engine malfunctions in A320neo planes in the last one week, which "has caused serious concern and resultant disruption".
On 28 October, the DGCA had asked IndiGo to replace 16 A320neo planes' PW engines, which have been used for more than 2,900 hours, by 12 November but it found later that seven more aircraft are flying with such engines.
On Monday, the DGCA had also directed yet another no-frills carrier, GoAir, to replace its 13 A320neo aircraft's PW engines, reported PTI.
"Kindly note that after that none of these 23 aircraft, which does not have at least one LPT (low pressure turbine) modified engine on its wings, shall be allowed for commercial operation and their schedule will suitably be curtailed till this is accomplished," the DGCA said.
While the United Technologies’ PW engines are fuel-efficient there have been issues since they entered into service in 2016, forcing the airline to ground its planes several times.
The groundings have cost IndiGo, which last month posted its biggest-ever quarterly loss after being forced to lease aircraft to replace planes grounded with engine issues.
On Wednesday, one of the Pratt and Whitney engines of an IndiGo A320neo plane that was heading to Pune stalled mid-air, forcing the pilot to return to Kolkata.
On three consecutive days from 24 to 26 October, IndiGo had three in-flight PW engine shutdowns, compelling the DGCA to visit the airlines' premises on Monday to review the maintenance and safety data.
On 29 October, shares of InterGlobe Aviation fell 3 percent after the DGCA asked IndiGo not to use A320neo planes which are fitted with PW engines that have already been used for over 3,000 hours, or face grounding of aircraft.
In September this, glitches in PW engines had given troubles to IndiGo's four more A320s and A321s.
IndiGo, had then said two of the reported cases were routine maintenance issues and the planes are back into operations. In the other case, the aircraft is currently undergoing 'C check' at an MRO facility in Hyderabad, the airline said.
— With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Nov 01, 2019 18:31:49 IST