India’s airlines can continue to fly their A320neo aircraft and even take new deliveries of the model from Airbus. This is despite some of the aircraft, flying on engines made by the US-based Pratt and Whitney (P&W), being snag-prone.
The country’s ministry of civil aviation yesterday (Jan. 08) cleared the P&W engines in A320neo aircraft used by IndiGo and GoAir. The decision was made at a meeting of various stakeholders, including the airlines, Airbus, P&W, and India’s civil aviation watchdog directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA).
The meeting was called by the ministry following a series of in-flight shutdowns of A320neo aircraft in India.
On Jan. 03, an IndiGo flight on the Chennai-Kolkata route experienced trouble in one of its P&W engines, which shut down mid-flight with a loud bang and smoke. The aircraft with 136 passengers on board returned safely to Chennai.
In December, IndiGo had grounded an aircraft following the mid-air shut down of one of its P&W engines. The plane, flying from Port Blair to Kolkata, returned to Port Blair and made an emergency landing. This was the fourth technical glitch involving an IndiGo flight since Dec. 10.
However, the government and the DGCA do not see the need for grounding the aircraft yet. “A root cause analysis on the A320neo issues was carried out. In-flight engine shutdown cases in India was found to be lower than the global benchmark,’’ the DGCA said. The regulator added that India witnessed more such incidents as IndiGo and GoAir are among the largest clients of these engines in the world.
Following the recent incidents of in-flight shutdowns, the government had identified five issues plaguing the P&W engines. Civil aviation secretary RN Choubey said P&W has taken corrective action on four of them and was working on resolving the fifth issue related to the gear box. Measures such as grounding of existing planes and halting the induction of new A320neo aircraft are not needed as of now, Choubey said.
The DGCA may issue a set of additional safety directives for A320neo aircraft next week, the aviation secretary added.