DGCA set to remove restrictions on Pratt&Whitney powered A320 Neo aircraft

Topics DGCA | Pratt & Whitney | A320neo

The Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G-JM jet engine of an Airbus A320neo. (Photo: Bloomberg)
Indian aviation regulator DGCA is set to give EDTO approval to Airbus 320 and 321 Neos fitted with Pratt and Whitney engines, which are used by IndiGo and Go Air.

EDTO or Extended Diversion Time Operations approval is mandatory for aircraft to take routes for which the nearest suitable airport, to make an emergency landing, is more than 60 minutes away.

The PW engines have suffered multiple glitches leading to inflight shutdowns due to which DGCA had restricted EDTO operations of A320 and A321Neo aircraft, primarily operated by IndiGo and Go Air.

However, US and European aviation regulators gave this approval two years back.

According to a circular by DGCA, which was reviewed by Business Standard, the regulator has asked IndiGo to conduct a validation flight of 90 minutes by a 320 or 321 aircraft, after which permission will be given by DGCA.

Validation or proving flights are required to demonstrate the readiness of IndiGo to conduct operations using the aircraft and to ensure that the airline has facilities, services and personnel to do the same.

Restrictions on EDTO meant that IndiGo and Go Air were forced to use older A320 CEO aircraft, which consume more fuel or take a longer route to destinations like Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket and Muscat, which extend beyond the 60-minute flight range from the nearest alternative airport.

The removal of restrictions by the DGCA also means IndiGo will be able to explore new destinations in the Central Asian countries.

“EDTO validation flight for 90 minutes is granted provided that IndiGo ensures that at least one flight crew member has previous experience of EDTO Flight on A320 or A321,” Chandra Mani Pandey, an officer at DGCA’s flight safety department wrote to IndiGo yesterday.

Two fight safety officers of the aviation regulator will inspect the flight.

If the results are satisfactory, the EDTO approval for the aircraft will be given within 48 hours, a DGCA official said.

IndiGo is the world’s biggest customer for A320Neo family aircraft with as many as 730 on order. Due to the glitches, IndiGo last year decided to switch from PW engines, placing a $20 billion order instead with rival CFM, a venture between General Electric Co and France’s Safran SA.

The approval for EDTO operations comes after IndiGo successfully completed mandatory replacement of PW engines turbine blades built with titanium with sturdier engine turbine blades made with a nickel-chromium alloy before the August 31 deadline set by the aviation regulator.

Wadia group owned Go Air has also replaced some of its engines which they intend to operate.

Following multiple snags with engines, aviation regulator DGCA last year had barred IndiGo and Go Air from operating the Airbus A320 and 321neo aircraft with turbine blades built with titanium, which are prone to damage, leading to midair engine shutdowns.

As a result of this, India’s largest airline had to cut its capacity forecast by 2-3 per cent in Q4FY20.

“While IndiGo has replaced all their engines, Go Air is yet to replace around 16 engines as they don’t intend to operate those aircraft as of now,” a DGCA official said.

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