Bombay High Court Tells Aviation Regulator To Quell Passenger Anxiety Over Aircraft Engines

A bench of Justices Naresh Patil and GS Kulkarni also directed DGCA to test the airworthiness of all Prat and Whitney engines used.

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Bombay High Court Tells Aviation Regulator To Quell Passenger Anxiety Over Aircraft Engines

Bombay High Court directed DGCA to test airworthiness of Prat and Whitney engines used for A320Neo planes

The Bombay High Court today directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to ensure that "passenger safety was not compromised with," in light of the engine troubles being faced by some aircraft belonging to private airlines Indigo and Go Air.

A bench of Justices Naresh Patil and GS Kulkarni also directed DGCA to test the airworthiness of all Prat and Whitney engines used for A320 neo planes including those which had not been flagged by expert air safety bodies.

The bench directed the DGCA to file, within a week, an affidavit on all steps taken to quell the anxiety of passengers over the aircraft engines.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a city resident, Harish Agarwal, seeking appropriate directions to the civil aviation authorities over recent reports that certain 'Pratt & Whitney (PW) engines' which power A320 neo planes were more susceptible to engine failures.

In February this year, a European Air Safety Authority issued an airworthiness directive for A320 neo planes fitted with PW1100 engines having a particular serial number.

As per the directive, PW1100 engines are classified into two types or series of numbers, 449 and 450 and beyond.

The EASA ruled that engines having the serial numbers 450 and beyond had combustion and other safety problems.

It ruled that across the world, all A320 neo aircraft with both engines having serial numbers 450 or beyond should be grounded, while those with only one engine having serial number 450 and beyond could continue to fly.

However, DGCA's counsel Adveith Sethna told HC that earlier this month, the DGCA conducted its own independent study and ruled that aircraft with even one 450 and beyond PW1100 engine should be grounded.

Nine aircraft belonging to Indigo and five to Go Air had one or both engines belonging to the flagged serial number, said Sethna.

"Keeping public safety in mind, we grounded all affected aircraft. The issue is being further examined by the DGCA and by authorities in the United States where such engines are powered," said Indigo's counsel senior advocate Janak Dwarkadas.

Go Air's counsel Venkatesh Dhond made similar submissions.

"While we appreciate your decision to ground the affected flights, you must take steps to ensure that air passengers are not inconvenienced due to the consequent cancellation of flights. Take all possible steps to address the issue," the bench said.

It also told the DGCA to conduct a meeting of experts and the affected airlines to ensure maximum cooperation and an effective resolution of the problem.

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"Take all players on board to implement remedial measures. Ensure that passenger safety is not compromised with. Tomorrow, when a citizen boards a plane, he or she should not worry about the efficiency of the aircraft engine," the bench said.

"Conduct a test of airworthiness for all PW1100 engines to ensure they are absolutely safe," it said.

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