What Are We Doing About Faulty Aircraft Engines on IndiGo & GoAir?

Of the 56 engine failures of P&W1100 engines, as many as 26 cases were faced by Indian airlines IndiGo and GoAir.

Published04 Mar 2020, 03:08 PM IST
India
2 min read

The woes of Pratt & Whitney, an American company whose aircraft engines have recently been in the eye of the storm due to 56 cases of engine failure across the world, have two Indian airlines particularly worried.

Of the 56 engine failures of Pratt & Whitney’s P&W1100 series of engines, as many as 26 cases were faced by Indian airlines – IndiGo and GoAir.

The issue has been raised by Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture. In February, chairperson of the panel, BJP MP TG Venkatesh, had called upon officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to discuss passenger safety issues that could arise due to these snags.

The Problem

The problems with the P&W1100 engines are due to the fracture of third stage engine turbine blades, which begin to wear out after a certain number of hours in flight, reported The Indian Express.

Here are the number of P&W1100 engines used by IndiGo and GoAir, as per a DGCA official.

  • Total number of P&W1100 engines | IndiGo: 212; GoAir: 86
  • Unmodified engines | IndiGo: 66; GoAir: 42
Though the technical snags in the engines have not caused any major mishap, the constant air turnbacks arising out of engine failure have resulted in numerous disruptions and delays. In December 2019, European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a warning about potential dual-engine failure on A320neo planes fitted with P&W engines.

The Resolution

  • The first failure was reported by IndiGo in January 2017, and by GoAir in September 2018.
  • In October 2019, DGCA had directed both IndiGo and GoAir to replace unmodified engines with modified ones in their entire fleet by 31 January 2020. The deadline was later pushed to 31 May.
  • Both airlines have said that they will abide by the DGCA directive and replace all older engines by the end of May 2020.

A senior government official told The Indian Express, “The house panel had discussed the issue with civil aviation officials and was given a roadmap for a resolution of the probem. P&W is in process of setting up a maintenance, repair and overhaul unit in India, in collaboration with Air India Engineering Services, for replacement of the third stage low-pressure turbine at their Mumbai facility. This will significantly reduce the time taken for the upgrade. The facility is expected to be operational soon.”

Additional Measures

  • Until modifications are made to all the faulty P&W engines, IndiGo and GoAir have been allowed to fly their planes on the condition that at least one of the two engines on the A320neo aircraft have been modified.
  • DGCA has also taken other steps such as restricting operations of A320neos over large water bodies to cities such as Port Blair.

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