India’s largest airline has a major problem. After multiple inflight engine shutdowns on its newest A320neo planes the national regulator is demanding that Indigo Airlines swap out all its Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan PW1100G engines with an updated version that is not susceptible to the failures. The DGCA set a deadline of 31 January 2020 for all aircraft to have both engines modified and this week issued an update on that demand, noting that it is not confident the carrier will meet this requirement.
Citing concerns that “efforts undertaken (till time) by the operator to replace all unmodified Engines on their Neo fleet by 31/1/2020 do not instil enough confidence with regard to the timely completion of said task,” authorities are now ordering more a severe option for enforcement.
The DGCA issued a brief requiring new deliveries to Indigo (arriving with acceptable engines) to replace existing aircraft in the fleet. Those existing A320neo family aircraft are to be grounded awaiting retrofit engines. “Simply put, the new Aircraft will slip into the role of one existing Aircraft with unmodified Engines… DGCA perceives that this substitution of an Aircraft with unmodified engines with a modified one, will not cause any disruption and shall improve the safety of Aircraft operations and maintain the regularity of operations.”
The carrier planned for these new deliveries to help expand its fleet, not simply maintain the existing schedule as the broken aircraft are grounded. And presumably the schedules and route network account for that expansion plan, not just maintaining the status quo.
It is also worth noting that the DGCA did not apply similar requirements to the GoAir A320neo fleet, also powered by the PW1100G GTF engines from Pratt & Whitney. While both airlines are required to ensure that at least one engine is operating with the updated low pressure turbine component, the GoAir fleet does not appear to face the same requirement for replacement of both engines by the end of January. Moreover, it does not have an obligation to ground existing aircraft for repair as new planes join the fleet.
Header image: IndiGo A320neo by BriYYZ via CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr