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Airlines report multiple engine failures: Are Indian skies becoming unsafe?

The recent incidents at Vistara involving technical issues with the CFM engines mounted on its aircraft have raised the risk profile of the Indian aviation sector a bit.

twitter-logo Manu Kaushik   New Delhi     Last Updated: May 25, 2018  | 20:33 IST
Airlines report multiple engine failures: Are Indian skies becoming unsafe?

The recent incidents at Vistara involving technical issues with the CFM engines mounted on its aircraft have raised the risk profile of the Indian aviation sector a bit. Some reports say that a few days ago, a Vistara Airbus A320neo flight from Delhi to Bengaluru could not take off as the engines would not start. In March, another incident involving A320neo had to return to Ahmedabad after a problem emerged with its CFM International Leap engine.

According to the reports, the carrier has reported problems with its CFM Leap I engines.  Four engines have already been replaced while two more are waiting to be replaced after cropping up of problems in the turbines of the engines. Gurgaon-based Vistara took delivery of the first of seven leased LEAP-1A Airbus A320neos from lessor BOC Aviation in last May. In a tweet, Vistara clarified, "We use engines from a different manufacturer on our A320neos than those used by some other airlines that have been in the news over the past year."

"There have been no safety issues or inflight shutdowns on our A320neo engines. Initial glitches can occur from time to time on any new engine, aircraft, and are addressed as per routine process with the manufacturers in coordination with all regulators - DGCA, EASA, FAA. There is no safety implication whatsoever," says a Vistara spokesperson.

Vistara, a joint venture between Indian conglomerate Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines that began operations in January 2015, is not the only airline that's facing issues with engines mounted on A320neos. Market leader IndiGo and Mumbai-based GoAir have faced problems with Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines. IndiGo has been struggling with its A320neos powered by P&W's 450 series engines for the past 18 months. The engines have suffered from mid-air power loss, shutdowns and rapid degradation of oil seals. IndiGo's future deliveries of aircraft have also been impacted due to engine issues.

A320 family aircraft are already popular with domestic carriers with over 300 aircraft under operations out of a total fleet of about 580 aircraft. CFM and P&W are the two companies that manufacture neo engines for narrow-body Airbus A320s. The other large engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce is focusing on wide-body aircraft market. The neos (new engine option) are advanced version of ceos (current engine option), which are 15 per cent fuel efficient with reduced noise levels and 50 per cent less carbon emissions.

In April, Vistara took delivery of its 20th aircraft - and seventh Airbus A320neo - that has given automatic regulatory clearance to the airline to fly on international routes. It had placed an order of two more A320neo aircraft that are expected to be delivered by next month.

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