Aviation regulator DGCA has ordered detailed inspection of 21 Airbus 320 neo planes of IndiGo and GoAir that are equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines, which have been frequently facing technical glitches. While Pratt & Whitney (P&W) said it is working with IndiGo and GoAir as well as the regulator over the issues, “boroscopic inspection” of the engines has already started. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has directed the airlines to carry out inspection after taking serious note of recent incidents, where some IndiGo and GoAir flights had to make emergency landings due to engine issues. As many as 21 A320 neo planes — that are using P&W engines — would be examined and the exercise is expected to be completed in the next two weeks, a senior DGCA official said. “Airlines have been asked to carry out one-time boroscopic inspection of all engines which have completed 1,000 hours instead of 1,500 hours recommended by manufacturer and repeat inspection at every 500 hours,” the official said.
In case, the boroscopic inspection is unsatisfactory, the regulator has said the engine operation should be as per manufacturer’s recommendation subject to certain conditions.
However, recommendation below 375 hours shall not be accepted, the official said.
The examination of the engines is being done using boroscope — an optical device that is used for inspecting parts that are generally inaccessible. Hence, the exercise is called boroscopic examination.
Out of the 21 such planes that are being inspected by the DGCA, 16 are with IndiGo and the rest are with GoAir.
In a statement, P&W said it is supporting GoAir and IndiGo to assess the situation and minimise any disruption.
“The issues are still under review, so it would be premature to speculate on the cause. We are working closely with our customers and our suppliers in order to address and resolve these issues quickly,” it noted.
After carrying out preliminary probes into incidents involving P&W engine-powered neo planes, the official said a frequent issue has been with one of the bearings in the engine apart from those related to combustion system.
P&W has been apprised of the initial findings and the company has assured that the problems would be resolved in coming months, the official added.
According to the official, the engine maker is likely to fix the problems by September this year.
Even though DGCA carries out inspection of planes routinely as part of ensuring overall safety, it is rare for the regulator to order detailed examination of a particular class of aircraft and a specific engine.
Globally, 13 P&W engines were removed prematurely due to “combustion chamber distress”, while the number of removals on account of “3 bearing distress” stood at 28. Only engine was removed due to “main gear box” failure during this period, as per data available with DGCA till February 24.
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Among various incidents, earlier this month a Bengaluru- bound GoAir flight — carrying around 190 people — had made an emergency landing due to technical issues on February 8. The carrier was operating a A320 neo aircraft having P&W engine.
A320 neo planes, which are more fuel efficient, are currently being used by three domestic carriers — IndiGo, GoAir and Air India. In the case of the national carrier, the aircraft is powered by CFM engine.
Amid persisting concerns, P&W claimed the GTF engines have been delivering on its performance commitments, including 99.8 per cent dispatch reliability.