Replace engines of 98 Airbus A320neo aircraft by Jan 31, DGCA asks IndiGo

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has set January 31 as the final date for IndiGo to change the engines of all its 98 Airbus A320neo aircraft. 

Planes with unmodified engines will not be allowed to fly after the deadline. DGCA’s order, issued on Friday, comes after four air turnback incidents (return to departure airport) involving the A320neo in a week. The directive could impact the airline's schedules and capacity induction plan. IndiGo has already revised downward its 2019-20 capacity growth target because of aircraft delivery delays.

DGCA chief Arun Kumar noted the four instances of air turnback was matter of serious concern  and said both engines of all the 97 aircraft need to have modified low pressure turbines (LPTs). The planes in question are powered by Pratt & Whitney manufactured engines.

An aviation source said a two-month deadline was stiff and US-based Pratt & Whitney could face a challenge in delivering the required number. "It has customers around the world and will have to supply extra engines to IndiGo without disturbing delivery schedules of others," he explained. 

"IndiGo currently operates its fleet of 98 A320 NEO family with around 45% of its engines modified. We are working with both P&W and Airbus on mitigation so that we have enough modified spare engines by January 31, 2020. In the meantime, our schedule remains intact,” the airline said. IndiGo operates over 1,400 daily flights and has a fleet of 250 planes.

Snags have been reported on the engines since their entry into service in 2016. They have undergone checks and modifications but issues persist regarding low pressure turbines, main gear box failure and engine vibration. The recent air turnbacks were due to the turbine issue.

Earlier, DGCA also directed IndiGo to change engines on 23 planes till November 19. These planes have unmodified engines which have clocked 2900 hours each and the regulator wants airline to fit one modified engine in the period. 

Pratt & Whitney did not comment on Friday. Earlier in the week, it said it was “working in coordination with our airline customers to incorporate upgrades improving the durability of the low pressure turbine in the PW1100G-JM fleet to address a known issue...We are committed to ensure minimal disruption during the fleet retrofit.”

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