India’s civil aviation industry seems to be suffering a sustained patch of turbulence. Late 2019 saw a series of aircraft snags, and the new year hasn’t brought much relief. An Airbus A320neo powered by Pratt and Whitney (P&W) engines and operated by Indigo on the Mumbai-Singapore sector had to be grounded on Wednesday because of technical trouble, as reported by the airline in a statement on Thursday.

In deep winter, it’s usually fog that disrupts flight schedules across north India. This time, however, many of the cancellations have been on account of safety concerns. There have been rather too many instances of aircraft returning shortly after take-off. Engine reliability levels have rarely been so low. Airlines that use P&W jets on A20neo planes have been struggling to fix a problem that’s specific to this combination of aviation equipment. Boeing 737Max aircraft had to be grounded earlier last year, once a nose-tipping software was found to have led to a couple of crashes; the discovery of that ghost in the machine led to a scandal that recently resulted in the ejection of Boeing’s CEO.

Had domestic demand for air travel been higher, India’s crimped aviation capacity would have sent airfares soaring. According to a recent report by Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency (ICRA), aircraft groundings due to technical snags have impacted almost 15% of the industry’s capacity. While the market has seen a boom in traffic over the past decade, the current woes of airlines could threaten growth this year.

My Reads Logout