Mumbai: Low-cost carrier IndiGo, the country’s biggest airline, has grounded three of its Airbus A320 new engine option (neo) aircraft, following a safety alert from the European aviation regulator EASA over some variants of the Pratt and Whitney engines used globally.
The precautionary measure of grounding the three aircraft “resulted in cancellations of some of our flights”, the airline said in a statement.
“But we feel it was the best decision in the interest of our safe and reliable operations. The affected passengers have been accommodated in our other connections and flights of other airlines. The passengers have also been given choice of full refund as well,” the statement added.
A320 neos, made by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus and powered by American aerospace manufacturer Pratt and Whitney’s (PW) turbofan engines, have been having engine problems since the time they were inducted into global airline fleet two years ago.
IndiGo said it had proactively withdrawn the three A320 neo aircraft from service from February 9.
According to the airline, the recommendations by Pratt & Whitney as well as EASA are with respect to a certain sub-population of engines, with a particular engine configuration.
Pratt and Whitney, with the support of Airbus, is in close contact with the airline to address the results of a recent finding related to the issue, it added.
IndiGo is the largest operator of twin-engined A320 neo aircraft in the world; all their 32 neos are fitted with PW 1100 engines. IndiGo A320 neos have had the most failures globally: a total of 69 instances of single-engine failure in the 18 months between March 2016 and September 2017, reported the Times of India.
IndiGo and GoAir are the two domestic carriers that operate A320neo planes powered by Pratt and Whitney engines.
Budget airline GoAir said it has three of these engines installed in its aircraft. “In full and complete compliance with the requirements, none of GoAir aircraft have two of these engines on the same aircraft,” the carrier said in a statement, adding that none of its planes needs to be grounded.
India’s civil aviation regulator DGCA issued a separate statement, saying the European Aviation Safety Agency had observed “several occurrences of engine in-flight shut-down… and Rejected Take-Off… involving A320neo family aeroplanes”.
Meanwhile, Airbus has stopped delivering A320 neo jets powered by Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan engines and halted pre-delivery test flights after the latest technical hitch to affect the supplier, reports Reuters citing two unnamed sources familiar with the matter.
A European safety bulletin, effectively grounding aircraft that have already been delivered with two engines from the same suspect batch, affects about 15-20 aircraft already in service, they said.