Leading low-cost carrier IndiGo on Wednesday grounded five A320 neo (new engine option) aircraft due to problems with the trouble-prone Pratt & Whitney engine again, a development that could upset some of the airline's flight schedules.
IndiGo, on its part, "confirmed that a few A320 Neos have been taken out of service proactively and await spare engines from Pratt and Whitney. The release of additional spare engines has been initiated by P&W so that all aircraft are expected to be back in service in the second half of August," the airline said.
However, IndiGo did not provide any comment on the extent to which the grounding of the five planes would disrupt its flight schedules. According to airline sources, on average an A320 Neo aircraft is used for operating around 8 to 9 flights a day. IndiGo operates around 1,000 flights every day.
The planes have been grounded at the Indira Gandhi International Airport. A senior official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that the regulator did not direct grounding of the planes and that the move was part of a routine maintenance issue within the airline.
P&W engine problems had forced the airline to ground some of the A320 Neo aircraft on earlier occasions as well.
Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had in March this year ordered the grounding of 11 A320 Neo planes fitted with P&W1100 engines beyond ESN 450 series due to recurring problems, including mid-air shutdowns. Of these, eight belong to IndiGo and three belonged GoAir. Another three A320 Neos of IndiGo had been grounded earlier in February.
Both IndiGo and GoAir had been told not to refit these engines, which were spare with them in their inventory. Consequently, both IndiGo and GoAir had to cancel over 600 flights at the time, with 488 flights by IndiGo alone. Passengers booked on these flights were either given fresh bookings or offered refunds.
Matters came to a head when on February 9, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had issued an emergency airworthiness directive for A320 Neo planes fitted with P&W1100 engines having a particular serial number.
The directive followed instances of the engines shutdown during flights and rejected take-offs involving the A320 Neo aircraft. On February 13, DGCA had said that it was monitoring engine glitches to ensure that safety was not compromised.
DGCA was also asked by the Bombay High Court to submit an affidavit, in response to a PIL, on the steps taken by it to quell the anxiety of passengers over issues related to these engines.
IndiGo started inducting A320 Neos in March 2016 and since then, there have been intermittent problems with P&W engines.
IndiGo started inducting A320 Neos in March 2016 and since then, there have been intermittent problems with P&W engines. Following P&W engine problems, aircraft maker Airbus, earlier this year, had put on hold deliveries of A320 Neo planes having such engines. The delivery resumed in May. Since then, IndiGo has inducted as many as seven such aircraft. Currently, IndiGo has a fleet of more than 170 aircraft, including 40 A320 Neo planes.
In the 2017 June quarter, IndiGo had grounded nine A320 Neo planes due to engine issues.