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P&W engine issue: Aviation body says it will take harshest action, if need arises

The DGCA on Wednesday said Pratt and Whitney has been asked to ensure easy availability of spare engines to airlines and the aviation regulator will take the “harshest action” if need arises.

About 40 per cent of the domestic seat capacity of India is powered by Pratt and Whitney engines and therefore, any knee-jerk reaction to completely shut their operations will have serious consequences, the regulator noted.

A total of 127 P&W engine-powered A320neo planes of the two airlines — GoAir and IndiGo — have been facing glitches both mid-air and on-ground since their induction way back in 2016, which has also led to grounding of some planes.

“The DGCA assures all its stakeholders that we are alive to the situation and will take the harshest action, should the need arise,” the regulator added.

At present, IndiGo and GoAir have 92 and 35 A320neo aircraft powered by Pratt and Whitney engines in India. A total of 436 such aircraft are operating globally.

“Manufacturer (Pratt and Whitney) has been directed to ensure more availability of spare engines for Indian operators to prevent grounding of aircraft due to removal of engines,” the DGCA said in its statement.

“It is true that there have been cases of air turn back, in flight shut down or engine vibrations beyond the prescribed limits, but with strong mitigation measures in place and strict adherence to SOPs (standard operating procedures) by the airlines, the problem is being contained,” the regulator added.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) held a meeting with executives of IndiGo, GoAir and Pratt and Whitney on Wednesday afternoon to review the performance of aforementioned 127 A320neo aircraft in India. The DGCA said in its statement that Pratt and Whitney currently is in the process of implementing mitigation actions in respect of the following issues: Main Gear Box (MGB) failure, Low Pressure Turbine (LPT) failure and engine vibration. The regulator said that both aforementioned airline companies in total faced only 2 engine events, which include in-flight shut down, air turn back and rejected take off, in 2019 due to MGB failures in Pratt and Whitney engines. This number is similar to 2018, when the airline faced two engine events only due to MGB failures.

However, when it came to LPT failures, the number of engine events that happened in 2019 went up to total seven for both the airlines, according to the DGCA. In comparison, the engine events in 2018 due to LPT failures were five for these airlines. To address MGB and LPT related issues, the regulator on July 22 asked IndiGo and GoAir that all new inductions of A320neo and A321neo aircraft after August 2019 must be installed with “modified MGB and new modified 3rd stage LPT blades”.

IndiGo and GoAir have received 40 and seven engines, respectively, which have been retrofitted with 3rd stage LPT blades, the regulator said.

The operation of A320neo aircraft and Pratt and Whitney engines are considered safe globally, the regulator stated.

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