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In November, the DGCA had said IndiGo and GoAir must replace all unmodified P&W engines on the A320neo planes by 31 January. (Photo: Bloomberg)
In November, the DGCA had said IndiGo and GoAir must replace all unmodified P&W engines on the A320neo planes by 31 January. (Photo: Bloomberg)

EU body issues fresh warning for A320neos  fitted with P&W engines

  • EU regulator asks airlines to replace at least one, if not both, P&W engines in A320neos by March-end
  • EASA said airlines can replace the faulty part with turbine blades built by International Aero Engines

New Delhi: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a fresh warning earlier this week about a potential dual-engine failure on Airbus A320neo family planes fitted with Pratt and Whitney (P&W) engines.

In an airworthiness report issued on Monday, EASA said low-pressure turbine blades on some P&W engines on A320neo planes had low damage tolerance and could immediately “fracture", or develop cracks, on impact. “This condition, if not corrected, could lead to dual engine in-flight shutdown, possibly resulting in reduced control of the aeroplane," the aviation regulator said and asked airlines to replace at least one, if not both, P&W engines by March-end.

EASA said airlines could replace the faulty part with improved turbine blades developed by Swiss manufacturer International Aero Engines Llc.

Since the introduction of A320neos in 2016, P&W engines have reported snags, but the EASA, the certifying body for Europe-based Airbus A320neos, had issued the first warning over the possibility of dual-engine failures, a potentially fatal flaw, involving P&W engines in February 2018.

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had been conducting its own inspections, before the EASA first issued the warning, following reports of snags involving the A320neo fleet of two airlines, IndiGo and GoAir. InterGlobe Aviation Ltd’s IndiGo has 98 A320neo family aircraft—91 A320neos and seven A321neo planes—all with P&W engines, while rival GoAir’s fleet has 37 A320neos.

“We are much ahead. We issued directions to this effect sometime ago and will accomplish much before their proposed timeline," DGCA chief Arun Kumar said in an interview.

In November, the DGCA had said IndiGo and GoAir must replace all unmodified P&W engines on the A320neo planes by 31 January.

A GoAir spokesperson said it has only 13 P&W engines currently that need to be modified.

“IndiGo reiterates that the current schedule remains intact. All IndiGo aircraft are well within the prescribed safety limits of US FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), EASA, and the more stringent regulations by Indian regulator DGCA," the airline said.

Neither Kumar, nor IndiGo and GoAir revealed how many planes are operating with both engines not modified.

Engine manufacturer P&W said it conducts certified upgrades during planned maintenance visits and has also incorporated these into all new engines. “Pratt & Whitney is working in coordination with our airline customers to incorporate upgrades in the low-pressure turbine in the PW1100G-JM fleet to address a known issue," a P&W spokesperson said.

A320neos operated by Air India and Vistara, besides other major airlines, however, use CFM International engines, a joint venture between US’s General Electric and French engine manufacturer Safran S.A.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, an A320neo aircraft operated by India’s largest airline, IndiGo, allegedly caught fire before take-off. The air traffic control at Udaipur raised an alarm over possible tail smoke from flight 6E 979 as it prepared for take-off for Bengaluru. However, later in the day, IndiGo said it was a false alarm. “During the inspection, there were no unusual observations, so it was a false alarm. The aircraft was released for further flight," the airline said. On Monday, an IndiGo A320neo, carrying 180 passengers from Bagdogra to Kolkata, had to return mid-air because of engine problems.

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