Mumbai: Pratt and Whitney (P&W) is yet to ascertain the number of engines potentially affected by the latest issue of the main gearbox of its engine that powers Airbus SE’s A320neo aircraft and has caused plane groundings by India’s IndiGo and GoAir.
The US-based engine maker is currently doing a so-called “root cause" analysis of the issue, which is expected to be completed in the coming “weeks", said a top company executive.
“We are doing an intensive investigation. We hope to get the root cause report very, very soon, probably in a week’s time," said Mark Cryan, vice-president, customers, India, Middle East and Africa, for commercial engines at P&W.
“We haven’t identified the number of aircraft engines that could be affected (due to the main gearbox issue). Once we identify the root cause, it will be easier for us to identify this."
IndiGo, India’s largest domestic carrier by market share, and GoAir, which operates A320neo aircraft fitted with the P&W engine, have faced several engine glitches. Such issues have resulted in flight delays and in some cases grounding of planes.
However, of the five main issues with the engine, four had been addressed, while the fifth issue of the main gearbox was yet to be addressed, said Jayant Sinha, minister of state for aviation, on the sidelines of the Global Aviation Summit 2019 in Mumbai on Tuesday.
“As soon as we get the root cause report, we will inform DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) and our customers (IndiGo and GoAir) if any corrective actions are required," said Cryan. He, however, added that there was no possibility of a delay in the delivery of A320neo planes to customers. Airbus had last year delayed deliveries of the A320neo planes due to issues with the P&W engine.
“We have over 350 aircraft with P&W engines in service now. So, if we have three events (glitches on main gearbox), it’s effectively affecting only a small percentage (of engines)," Cryan said.
He said the A320neo planes with P&W engines incorporate the latest technologies and “like all new technology, have few glitches during the first few years of operation".
CFM International offers a competing engine for the A320neo.
“The removal rates (of engines) came down significantly in 2018. We expect the same in 2019," Cyran said. “It is normal for new products to have a maturity period. So, initially, while there was a high number of events, as the product matures, these incident rates (engine issue) will come down."