Home / Companies / News /  US FAA proposes a new directive on PW engines powering A320neo/A321neo planes

NEW DELHI, US FAA : The American aviation regulator, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has proposed a new air worthiness directive (AD) for Pratt & Whitney (PW) 1100G family of turbofan engines that powers Airbus A320neo/A321neo aircraft after several instances of in-flight shutdown issues faced by operators of the aircraft during the past months.

The FAA, which is soliciting comments until mid-November, would require all operators of PW1100G family of turbofan engines to replace the main gearbox assembly and electronic engine control software, aviation news site FlightGlobal said quoting FAA documents.

This air worthiness directive was prompted by multiple reports of in-flight engine shutdowns as the result of high-cycle fatigue causing fracture of certain parts of the main gearbox (MGB) assembly, aviation news site FlightGlobal said.

“The FAA is issuing this AD to prevent failure of the MGB assembly. The unsafe condition, if not addressed, could result in failure of one or more engines, loss of thrust control, and loss of the airplane," it added.

At present, two Indian airlines, IndiGo and GoAir, operate PW powered Airbus A320neo/A321neo planes.

A senior official of Indian aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that the AD from FAA is likely to be issued by Friday mid-night on the regulator's website.

However, the DGCA official, who requested anonymity, said that India has already adopted the proposed FAA directive since 22 July, earlier this year.

"Pratt & Whitney is working in with Airbus, the regulatory authorities and our airline customers to incorporate upgrades improving the reliability of the accessory gearbox in the PW1100G-JM fleet. The accessory gearbox is external to the engine and drives accessories such as pumps and generators," a Pratt and Whitney’s spokesperson in a statement.

"We have certified engine hardware and software improvements to address the issue, and fleet implementation is progressing well," the spokesperson added.

"We are a step ahead (of FAA). DGCA has already issued direction to both the operators that no engine without modified MGB shall be accepted from September 2019 onwards, after the shop/MRO (Maintenance, repair and overhaul unit) visit and currently 49 engines have been received with modified MGB," the official added.

The PW 1100G-JM engine that powers A320neo planes is a “fan driven-geared turbine engine" manufactured by US-based P&W.

At present, there are 127 P&W engine-powered A320neo aircraft in India and 436 operating globally. In India, IndiGo operates 92 P&W powered A320neo planes, while GoAir has 35 such aircraft in its fleet.

Airlines operating this aircraft have faced several problems with the engine. The major ones involve combustion chamber distress, low pressure turbine (LPT) and gear box failures, engine vibration, among others.

While some issues, such as combustion chamber distress, have been addressed, P&W is working on suitable mitigation measures to resolve the remaining problems.

DGCA has directed that all A320/321neo aircraft inducted after August 2019 must be installed with a modified main gear box (MGB) and new modified third stage LPT blades.

At present, no engine from maintenance, repair and overhaul units is accepted unless installed with modified MGBs and new LPT blades.

This excludes those which are at final stages in shop or in transit. There is also a restriction on acceptance of lease engines without modified LPT and MGB. The engine failure related to MGB is expected to be contained after software updates.

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