India grounds 11 Indigo, GoAir jets after engine shutdowns

Mid-air engine failure DGCA grounds 11 A320 neo planes with Pratt & Whitney engines

Upon implementation of the directive, IndiGo shall have a total of nine A320neo aircraft on ground. The grounding could affect over 80 flights operated by the two budget airlines.

The DGCA says that A320neos with engine serial numbers ESN 450 and beyond will be grounded.

The DGCA has also ordered the airlines not to refit the engines even though there are spares in their inventories. The DGCA statement added that at the moment there is no concrete proposal in place to address the issue.

On February 9, EASA had issued an emergency airworthiness directive for A320 neo planes fitted with PW1100 engines having a particular serial number.

The move immediately grounded eight aircraft at IndiGo, India's largest carrier, and three at GoAirlines India Pvt. Of the 11 newly grounded Indian aircraft, as many as five may be able to recommence flying by swapping engines between affected planes.

However, there is a mismatch between the number of grounded planes given by the DGCA and IndiGo while clarity is awaited from the latter.

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"We are working closely with our customers to minimize disruption".

In less than three weeks, there have been as many incidents of in-flight shut down of A320 neos fitted with one P&W 1100 engine. These were: GoAir A-320 Neo (VT-WGB) after take-off from Leh on February 24; IndiGo A-320 Neo (VT-ITJ) after take-off from Mumbai on March 5 and IndiGo A-320 Neo (VT-ITA) after take-off from Ahmedabad on March 12.

Under the Pratt plan, all defective components would be replaced by early June, requiring some planes to fly with one affected engine for nearly three more months. The unilateral action is at odds with the European Aviation Safety Agency, the primary regulator for Airbus planes, which repeated guidance that the jets are safe if they have a single affected turbine. "Hundreds of passengers were stranded after a number of flights were cancelled by both IndiGo and GoAir in the wake of some aircraft going out of operations due to the DGCA order", a source said.

There are around 45 A320 neos, powered by P&W engines, in the country. GoAir has 13 such planes.

Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu is wasting no time in his new ministry.

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