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Airbus A320neo planes using Pratt & Whitney engines operated by IndiGo and GoAir have had several on-ground and mid-air glitches since their induction in early 2016. Photo: Reuters
Airbus A320neo planes using Pratt & Whitney engines operated by IndiGo and GoAir have had several on-ground and mid-air glitches since their induction in early 2016. Photo: Reuters

India to issue new safety norms for Pratt & Whitney engines

DGCA says will issue additional safety directive for planes powered by Pratt & Whitney engines within a week, while maintaining that incidents reported in India are fewer than the global benchmark

Mumbai: Indian airlines operating aircraft fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines will soon have to follow additional safety protocols, following several instances of flight delay and grounding because of engine glitches. Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday said it will issue an additional safety directive for such aircraft within a week, but noted that incidents reported in India are fewer than the global benchmark.

Senior officials from the civil aviation ministry and DGCA recently met representatives from Pratt & Whitney, Airbus, and airlines such as IndiGo and GoAir, which have faced problems with engines.

Airbus A320neo planes using Pratt & Whitney engines operated by IndiGo and GoAir have had several on-ground and mid-air glitches since their induction in early 2016.

“It was noted that the Inflight Shutdowns (IFSDs) on account of these Neo (new engine options) engines in India has averaged 0.02 per 1,000 engine flight hours, which is considerably lower than the stringent global benchmark of 0.05 IFSDs per 1,000 engine flight hours," DGCA said.

“So far in India, there have been 12 IFSDs since the entry into service of Neo engines" in March 2016, it said.

The DGCA said that most of the ‘In Flight Shut Downs’ and other related incidents have happened because of the failure of ‘Number 3 Bearing’ seal, failure of ‘Knife Edge Seal’, erosion of combustion chamber material, low pressure turbine rotor blades damage, and issues relating to the main gear box.

“Corrective action has been taken by Pratt & Whitney and the airlines in respect of all except issues relating to main gear box which is a recent phenomenon," the regulator said. DGCA also said it has been in talking to manufacturers and the certifying regulatory authority for these engines (FAA, USA).

“It was also noted that FAA and its European counterpart EASA have not declared these engines as unsafe," it said.

A Pratt & Whitney India spokesperson said that the company appreciated the thoughtful exchange of information with the aviation ministry and DGCA.

“All parties are now aligned on the status of the GTF (geared turbofan) programme in India, whose reliability has greatly improved over the last year. The GTF programme continues to be certified to the industry’s highest safety standards," the spokesperson said.

IndiGo and GoAir were not immediately available for comment.

“The Indian regulator has reaffirmed the operational reliability of the A320neo. We will continue to support the engine maker and our customers to minimize disruptions. The operational reliability of the global A320neo fleet is around 99.6%. The A320neo delivers 20% fuel-burn and efficiency improvement with the widest single aisle cabin in the sky," said an Airbus India spokesperson.

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