The Pratt & Whitney engine jinx reared up yet again on Saturday with a GoAir flight from Bengaluru to Pune being forced to return as the Airbus A320 Neo plane developed a technical snag. According to sources, the engine failed mid-air and the flight returned with full emergency measures being put in place for its landing at the Bengaluru airport.
There were 169 passengers on board. The pilots are reported to have got a mid-air indication of vibration in an engine followed by oil chip detection alarm going off, eventually leading to its shutdown. The GoAir spokesperson said, Flight G8-283 BLR-PNQ suffered a technical glitch.
As a standard operating procedure the captain returned back to Bengaluru. Post landing, all passengers were cared for and accommodated on alternative flights. The latest incident comes barely a week after Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu had sought a report from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on the grounding of the A320 neo planes.
IndiGo and GoAir have grounded nine A320 neo planes due to Pratt & Whitney engine issues, aviation regulator DGCA had disclosed last month. While seven of these were from the IndiGo fleet, the other two belonged to GoAir.
DGCA had admitted that IndiGo and GoAir have been grappling with P&W engine problems for many months. The manufacturers have taken measures to address significant problems of engines related to combustion chambers distress and No 3 bearing issues by replacing Block B combustion chambers with Block C and providing dry face bearing seals. These measures have significantly reduced the engine problems, the DGCA added.
The regulator also said there are no safety concerns as such distress is found during routine scheduled boroscope inspections of these engines. There are 60 A320 Neos with P&W engines operating in Indian skies as of now. Of them, 41 are with IndiGo and 19 with GoAir.
GoAir had on Thursday announced commencement of its overseas flights from October. "We already have 19 Airbus A320 new engine option (Neo) planes in the fleet, and we have 13 more such planes to come this year," Cornelis Vrieswijik, chief executive officer, GoaAir, told journalists in Mumbai. Four of these planes will be joining the fleet next month.
On the issue of frequent glitches in the Pratt & Whitney engines, which power these planes, the GoAir chief executive said: "The faulty engines are major issues when it comes to operations." However, he also said that all aircraft, except one or two, have the engines of latest standard, with the block seal.
Vrieswijik said that the airline had spare engines to replace the faulty engines to avoid flight disruptions. "We are depending upon engine modifications provided by the enginemaker. As an airline, we are having negotiations with aircraft and engine manufacturer and other suppliers. For compensation, we are always in negotiations with Airbus and Pratt & Whitney," he said.
The GoAir official also said that the airline was looking to sub-lease up to nine A320 Ceos, which burn 20 per cent more fuel compared with A320 Neos, as part of its cost cutting measures.