NEW DELHI: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has extended the deadline for replacing Pratt & Whitney (PW) unmodified engines on the Airbus A320 neo fleet of IndiGo and GoAir by three months to August 31, 2020, from May-end. The regulator has directed these airlines to operate only those A320/321 new engine options (neo) in their fleets that have both modified engines under their wings, something that it feels is possible due to less flying in current times.
This will ensure that the neos with snag-prone unmodified PW engine remain grounded and they start flying only after getting replacement engines by August-end. IndiGo and GoAir still need to replace about 60 engines whose delivery has been delayed because of the coronavirus epidemic.
“Supply chains and production lines have got impacted and in turn disturbed the (engine replacement) process due to Covid 19 impact. Keeping this in mind, we have extended the deadline by three months; upto August 31, 2020. Also we have instructed that in the present times, Neos with both engines modified should be flown. This should not be difficult as the curtailed operations are likely to last for some more time,” said a senior DGCA official.
This March the regulator had asked IndiGo and GoAir to replace the about 90 unmodified PW engines on their Airbus A320/321 neos with modified ones by May 31, 2020, to keep those aircraft flying after that. In March, IndiGo and GoAir had 60 and 32 unmodified PW engines, respectively, for their A320 neos.
In all, IndiGo and GoAir were to get 180 modified engines both as replacement on planes already in their fleet and on new A320/321 Neos delivered to them by May-end. While 90 of the modified engines were to come as new deliveries and replacement by February-end, the remaining half was expected by May 31. IndiGo currently has about 110 Neos and GoAir has 43 Neos.
Together the two Indian carriers had about 25% of the 585 A320 Neo family of aircraft with PW 1100 series engines in March.
In all 56 PW unmodified engine failures on A320 Neos have been reported globally, out of which 26 failures — 22 by IndiGo and four by GoAir — have been reported by Indian carriers, amounting to about 46% till March, 2020, according to the DGCA.
IndiGo had got its first A320 Neo in March 2016. GoAir got its first A320 Neo in May 2016. Technical issues were experienced on these engines worldwide. “Most of these issues have been addressed by the manufacturer except third stage low pressure turbine (LPT) failures…. PW developed a more robust third stage LPT which was installed on new engines from June 2019,” an official had said this March.
PW is setting up an MRO in India in collaboration with Air India engineering arm for replacement of third stage LPT at the latter’s Mumbai facility.