Air India Flight's Mid-Air Engine Shutdown Triggers Probe

The DGCA is now going through photographs of the engine that show serious damage, with quite a few compressor blades sheared off, sources said.

Air India Flight's Mid-Air Engine Shutdown Triggers Probe

The Air India aircraft has been grounded, said a source. (File)

New Delhi:

Just 27 minutes after take-off, an Air India flight headed for Bengaluru had to return to the Mumbai airport after one of its engines shut down mid-air on Thursday, prompting the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) to launch an investigation.

"The focus of the probe would be maintenance," an official told NDTV, requesting not to be named.

The Airbus A320neo aircraft has two engines and can fly safely with just one, officials said. The pilots, following protocol, decided to go for an emergency landing.

"The aircraft departed at 9:45 am and soon after take-off pilots received a warning in the cockpit indicating extremely high exhaust gas temperatures. The pilots sought an emergency landing," said an official.

According to him, by the time the plane landed in Mumbai, air traffic control had alerted ambulances and fire services.

The DGCA is now going through photographs of the engine that show serious damage, with quite a few compressor blades sheared off, sources said.

The aircraft has been grounded, said a source.

Passengers of Air India flight AI-639, which was scheduled to land in Bengaluru at 11 am, eventually arrived at the destination over three hours late at 2:40 pm onboard another aircraft.

"It was a normal technical snag and the plane returned without any turbulence," a senior Air India official told NDTV, adding that the DGCA inquiry into the matter is a routine exercise carried out by the regulatory authority.

"It was one of the incidents when the plane had to return due to a technical snag. Also, our pilots are trained to handle such emergencies," they said.

According to officials at Air India, which is now run by the Tata Group, the airline has 27 Airbus A320neo planes.

"We have a total strength of 117 planes, and all go through regular maintenance technical checks," an official said.

In an official statement, the company said, "Air India accords top priority to safety and our crew are well adept at handling these situations. Our engineering and maintenance teams are looking into the issue."

Air India's A320neo planes are powered by CFM LEAP engines and unlike IndiGo and GoAir's Pratt and Whitney A320neo engines, these have not reported technical problems in the past, an Air India official said.

Since their induction in 2016, the Pratt and Whitney engines have faced serious issues such as combustion chamber distress, engine vibration and low-pressure turbine, which have led to many in-flight engine shutdown incidents, sources in the aviation ministry said.

In March, the American firm announced that the issues with the Neo engines have been addressed.

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