Safety Protocol To Be Issued For Planes With Pratt & Whitney Engines

In a three-hour meeting Tuesday evening, the civil aviation ministry sat with senior executives of Pratt & Whitney, Airbus, Indigo and GoAir to review frequent on-ground and mid-air glitches that the P&W engines, powering certain Airbus planes, have been facing.

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Safety Protocol To Be Issued For Planes With Pratt & Whitney Engines

P&W engine woes forced both GoAir, IndiGo to ground some of the A320 Neos on earlier occasions (File)


New Delhi: 

Indian aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Wednesday said it will issue within a week an additional safety protocol directive to the airlines which have been facing issues in Pratt & Whitney-powered Airbus planes.

In a three-hour meeting Tuesday evening, the civil aviation ministry sat with senior executives of P&W, Airbus, Indigo and GoAir to review frequent on-ground and mid-air glitches that the P&W engines, powering certain Airbus planes, have been facing since their induction in early 2016.

"Based on these latest interactions, DGCA will issue an Additional Directive relating to Safety Protocols within a week to the airlines concerned. The situation is being continuously monitored by DGCA as part of its safety oversight system," the aviation body said in a statement Wednesday.

"So far in India, there have been 12 IFSDs (in-flight shutdowns) since entry into service of NEO engines beginning from March, 2016," it added.

The DGCA noted that the "IFSD" on account of these NEO engines in India has averaged 0.02 per 1,000 engine flight hours, which is considerably lower than the stringent global benchmark of 0.05 IFSD rates per 1,000 engine flight hours.

The recurring glitches on the Pratt & Whitney-powered Airbus planes have forced the Wadia group-run budget carrier GoAir to ground seven A320 Neos, PTI reported on Monday.

The A320 Neos are manufactured by Airbus.

The GoAir has 49 planes in the fleet 30 of which are Airbus A320 Neos.

P&W engine woes had forced both GoAir and the larger rival IndiGo (which operates 57 such planes) to ground some of the A320 Neos on earlier occasions also.

Pratt & Whitney said in an official statement on Wednesday: "Pratt & Whitney appreciated the thoughtful exchange of information with the ministry and DGCA. All parties are now aligned on the status of the GTF (Geared Turbofan) program in India."

The DGCA said in its official statement, "Most of these IFSDs and other related incidents have happened due to failure of ''Number 3 Bearing'' seal, failure of ''Knife Edge Seal'', erosion of combustion chamber material, Low Pressure Turbine Rotor Blades damage and issues relating to the Main Gear Box."

"Out of the above causes," it added, "corrective action has been taken by P&W and the airlines in respect of all except issues relating to Main Gear Box which is a recent phenomenon."

The DGCA has been in dialogue with the manufacturers and the certifying regulatory authority -- the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of United States -- for these engines.

"It was also noted that FAA and its European counterpart EASA have not declared these engines as unsafe," the DGCA said.

During February and March last year, 14 planes -- 11 of IndiGo and three of GoAir - were grounded by the aviation regulator DGCA following a series of mid-air engine shutdowns.

Apart from these two carriers, Air India and Vistara also operate A320 Neos but they are powered by CFM engines.

Despite repeated glitches forcing Airbus and P&W to monetarily compensate the operators for each grounding, neither the engine-maker nor the planemaker could provide any lasting solution so far.

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