US-based aircraft engine maker Pratt & Whitney (P&W) will complete replacement of its older engines that power Airbus A320neo planes, operated by IndiGo and GoAir, with modified engines much ahead of the 31 August deadline, said a senior company official.
“At the moment, we have completed replacement of about 220 engines at IndiGo, which has about 125 P&W-powered A320neo planes (250 engines) in its fleet. We have also replaced 60 of the 86 engines that power GoAir’s A320neo fleet. GoAir has about 43 such planes in its fleet," said Ashmita Sethi, president and India head at P&W, United Technologies Corporation (India).
In May, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had extended the deadline for replacing P&W engines that power Airbus A320neo planes from May-end to 31 August as airlines were unable to implement the directive due to the nationwide lockdown.
The deadline for engine replacement has been extended several times since last year.
DGCA’s instruction to IndiGo and GoAir to replace all the older P&W engines in their fleet with upgraded engines came after a series of snags.
“Clearly, India is a high priority market for us. We have continued to support our airline customers, working closely with them and finding innovative solutions (during the lockdown)," Sethi said. P&W India delivered 35-36 engines to airlines during the lockdown, she said.
“We flew in engines from the US using unscheduled charter flights. We also invested in MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) network capabilities and capacities around the world," Sethi said.
Airlines are at present allowed to operate up to 45% of their capacity after the government permitted the resumption of domestic flights from 25 May, albeit in a limited capacity, after about two months of grounding. IndiGo and GoAir are currently using most of their fuel- efficient P&W-powered A320neo jets to save on fuel costs.
IndiGo’s CEO Ronojoy Dutta said in a recent interview that the country’s largest domestic airline will phase out its older A320ceo planes with new A320neo planes to enhance cost efficiency.
Meanwhile, P&W’s partnership with Air India’s arm, Air India Engineering Services Ltd (AIESL), to maintain and carry out MRO services for the carrier’s geared turbofan (GTF) engines has yet to take off because of curbs on international flights.
“P&W is providing the training and processes, while the manpower belongs to AIESL. However, because of the ban of international flights, our executives aren’t able to travel to India," Sethi said.
“After ramping up the facility, the plan is to not only serve Indian airlines such as IndiGo and GoAir, but also international airlines that operate P&W’s GTF engines (at Mumbai’s AIESL facility). This will help create MRO sector’s capabilities and capacities in India," she said.