No frill airlines like IndiGo had to ground its flights due to glitches in its Pratt and Whitney engines, halting its daily operations, yet again.
After a series of in-flight incidents with Airbus SE narrow-body planes, which are powered by the latest Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines, authorities have decided on barring the aircraft from Indian skies.
A320 neos (new engine option) with even one Pratt engine featuring a seal found to cause vibrations are no longer allowed to fly, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said in a statement.
The unilateral decision came even after the European Aviation Safety Agency, the primary regulator for Airbus planes had declared the jets safe if they have a single affected turbine.
The action’s immediate repercussions were seen with the grounding of 11 A320 aircraft. While IndiGo grounded eight aircraft, GoAir barred three.
As per the DGCA, the planes were grounded after three in-service shutdowns of aircraft with one PW1100 engine featuring the seal, two of which occurred in the past week.
The airlines, as per protocol, replaced the defective engines overnight.
“All engines in the series that experienced trouble in India have been grounded. No aircraft with engines facing trouble will take off till issue completely resolved,” Indian media quoted minister of civil aviation, Jayant Sinha.
With its development of the geared turbofan engine model, P&W has been witnessing glitches, with this one in its knife-edge compressor being the latest one.
IndiGo’s tough time dealing with P&W
Last year too IndiGo had to halt its flights due to issues in its P&W engines. In fact, the low frill airline has been struggling with the engines in newest A320 neo aircraft ever since they were first inducted in February 2016.
As per reports, the airline had to replace P&W engines on its 32 A320 neo aircraft at least 69 times in the period May 2016-November 2017. These issues were related to non-detection of the chip, carbon seal lining or combustor chamber lining in P&W 1100 series engines. The defects were found in 69 instances during Indigo’s boroscopic tests (which are used to test imperfections in aircraft engines and gas turbines).
The latest news has had a bearing on the companies’ stocks as well, which fell last week. IndiGo, which is India’s largest airline by market share, fell as much as 3 pc in Bombay Stock Exchange.
“Pratt and Whitney engine issues will take a while to get resolved,” analysts at Mumbai-based brokerage Edelweiss Financial Services Ltd. wrote in a research note, recommending selling the stock. “This will hurt IndiGo in the near term and may lose market share to domestic peers.”
United Technologies shares fell 1.9 pc on Monday in New York, while Airbus fell 2.5 pc in Paris, the biggest loss in a week for both.
A solution proposed by the manufacturer, which is part of United Technologies Corp, has asked Indian airlines to fly with one affected engine, till it comes up with a permanent solution. This, however, has been denied by the Indian regulator.
An American manufacturer of civil and military aircraft engines, P&W has been facing similar glitches in A320 neo aircraft across the world, forcing airline operators to make emergency landings.