India’s aviation regulator has issued a new set of guidelines for aircraft flying on the snag-prone series of Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines.
The directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) has barred IndiGo, India’s largest airline by market share, and another budget carrier, GoAir, from flying their Airbus A320neo aircraft, fitted with P&W engines, to Port Blair, the capital city of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The regulator’s direction was based primarily on the fact that the nearest runway for an emergency landing is over an hour away from Port Blair, the news agency PTI reported. The city has the only commercial airport in the Andaman & Nicobar archipelago, off mainland India’s eastern coast in the Bay of Bengal.
IndiGo and GoAir are the only Indian airlines with aircraft using P&W engines. They must also carry out weekly inspections of these engines’ turbine blades and “create awareness among cabin and cockpit crew about odor/burning smell/smoke (even if slightest),” says the DGCA order, dated Jan. 17.
P&W is still trying to find the reason behind a recent spate of incidents where its engines failed. “We are doing an intensive investigation. We hope to get the root cause report very, very soon, probably in a week’s time,” Mark Cryan, P&W’s commercial engines vice-president for customers in India, Middle East, and Africa, told the Mint newspaper.
The Indian regulator had last week called a meeting with the civil aviation ministry, the two affected airlines, Airbus, and P&W to review these recent incidents. It was decided at the meeting that the airlines can continue to fly their A320neo aircraft and even take new deliveries of the model from the manufacturer Airbus.
Engines of IndiGo’s A320neo aircraft have reported at least five snags in the past month. On Dec. 23, an IndiGo flight from Port Blair to Kolkata returned for an emergency landing in Port Blair after a mid-air engine shutdown.
Most recently, on Jan. 03, an IndiGo flight on the Chennai-Kolkata route experienced trouble in one of its P&W engines, which shut down mid-flight with a loud bang and smoke. The aircraft, with 136 passengers on board, returned safely to Chennai.
Meanwhile, GoAir has also grounded seven of its A320neo aircraft, PTI reported on Jan. 08.