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The move comes hours after yet another engine failure on an A-320 Neo when an IndiGo aircraft took off from Ahmedabad for Lucknow Monday and then had to return to make an emergency landing in Ahmedabad.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had on February 9 issued an emergency airworthiness directive for A-320 Neos fitted with PW1100 engines (from serial number 450 and beyond) due to some occurrences of aborted take-off and in-flight shut down (IFSD) of these engines. Immediately after this, three A-320s of IndiGo were grounded in India as these planes had both engines of the flagged type.
At that time “11 other A-320 Neos aircraft (eight in IndiGo fleet and three in Go Air fleet) were allowed to operate as they were fitted with one affected engine having ESN 450 and beyond,” said a senior DGCA official.
Since then, however, the DGCA official said there have three cases of in-flight shutdown of A-320 Neos fitted with one affected PW1100 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.
“In view of the above, and keeping in the safety of aircraft operations, A-320 Neos fitted with PW1100 engines beyond ESN 450 have been grounded with immediate effect. Both IndiGo and Go Air have been told not to refit these engines, which are spare with them in their inventory,” said the DGCA official.
The Indian regulator “will continue to be in touch with the stakeholders and review the situation in due course as and when the issue is addressed by EASA and PW.” However when that happens remains to be seen. “EASA has informed that they are evaluating some interim proposals and will be revising the emergency AD in due course as soon as current affected engines will be modified with a safer interim design. PW in their latest communication has also not given any firm commitment as to when issue on the engine post serial number 450 will be resolved and informed that all the affected engines will be replaced by early June 2018. There is no concrete proposal in place at this stage to address the issue,” the official added.
Air India and Vistara also use A-320 but those are powered by CFM engines which are not facing the same issues as PW engines.
To be sure, only a handful of A-320 Neos in IndiGo and GoAir fleets have this specific series of PW engine. Even if the government decides to ground them, the Neos with other series of PW engines with these two airlines will keep flying.