Technical snags in A320 neo plane engines a ‘safety concern’: Raju

New Delhi: Technical snags faced by A320 neo aircraft operated by IndiGo and GoAir pose a “safety issue”, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has said, hoping that they would be addressed and sorted out.

At least eight A320 neo (new engine option) planes of IndiGo and two of GoAir have been grounded due to issues related to Pratt & Whitney engines that power these aircraft.

“Obviously, any failure is a safety issue. So the operating procedure we changed… What is attractive is fuel efficiency. Fuel efficiency is one thing and risking life is another,” Raju said in an interview.

He was responding to a query on whether the engine issues were a safety concern.

IndiGo, which has A320 neo planes in its fleet of 136 aircraft, was forced to cancel many flights due to engine woes.

The aviation regulator DGCA asked the American engine maker to expedite the supply of spare engines to India.

On whether there could be harsher action with respect to the engine issues, Raju said some of the planes have been grounded because of regulations, implying that existing norms are strict.

“Why are they grounded that is because of the regulations. You don’t want to take risks with life…

Everybody is working on it (addressing the engine issues). As long as glitches don’t massacre human beings it is okay. They will be addressed and sorted out,” he noted.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) directed IndiGo and GoAir, in February, to conduct inspections of the P&W engines once they complete 1,000 hours of flying, instead of 1,500 hours as recommended by the engine maker.

“What makes it (P&W engine) attractive?… We want to not risk lives and we also want fuel efficiency,” Raju said.

P&W claims their neo engines are 16 per cent more fuel efficient than the earlier variant A320 ceo (current engine option).

Last month, IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh indicated that the airline could examine procuring aircraft with engines from a different manufacturer such as GE for 280 A320 neos it has ordered out of the total 430 planes.

Last month, IndiGo had said it would also look at GE engines for its planned 280 A320 neo planes.

The issues related to its A320 neos are due to two specific components of P&W engines wearing out faster than expected even as he assured it is not a safety issue, the airline’s President Aditya Ghosh had said.

“Our engine supplier P&W is implementing some design changes and we believe those changes will be implemented over the next 12-18 months… We are right now focused on getting enough spare engines from P&W so that the operational headaches go away,” he had told shareholders.

Apart from IndiGo and Go Air, Air India and Vistara have A320 neo aircraft but with engines from a different manufacturer.


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