NEW DELHI :
Indian airlines that operate Pratt and Whitney (PW)-powered Airbus A320neo planes may not be able to complete replacing the older PW engines with modified ones by 30 May due to the ongoing lockdown, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said, requesting anonymity.
IndiGo and GoAir were in March directed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to complete this process by the end of May, following a series of snags with the engines.
The airlines started replacing the engines, but the lockdown imposed since 25 March to contain covid-19 has stalled the efforts, said the first person.
“It is now difficult to complete the replacement process by 30 May," he said. “As there will be phased return of flight operations once the lockdown is lifted, both IndiGo and GoAir will have enough aircraft fitted with modified engines that could be used for operations immediately after current restrictions on airlines are lifted."
IndiGo has 106 PW-powered A320neo planes in its fleet, while GoAir has 43.
“IndiGo will approach DGCA in the coming days to seek an extension of the deadline to complete replacement of older engines with modified ones," said another person who did not want to be named.
Spokespersons of IndiGo and GoAir didn’t respond to queries. An Airbus India spokesperson also did not offer comments.
Meanwhile, a senior DGCA official said that the watchdog will take a decision on extending the deadline after the nationwide lockdown is lifted.
Before the lockdown was imposed, the aviation regulator had allowed both IndiGo and GoAir to fly their A320neo planes on the condition that at least one of the two engines on an A320neo aircraft had to be modified, and the remaining modifications for all the faulty PW engines were to be made by the end of May.
More than 75% of PW powered A320neo fleet operated by IndiGo and GoAir have been upgraded with modified engines, said Ashmita Sethi, managing director of the India division of PW.
“PW is working on engines even during the lockdown. However, we haven’t filed any requests with the DGCA for extension of deadline as it is between the airlines and the regulator," Sethi said.