What's wrong with Pratt & Whitney engines?
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) swiftly swung into action a day after an Indigo Airlines flight made an emergency landing in Ahmedabad and grounded a total of 11 aircraft fitted with a particular series of engines manufactured by Pratt and Whitney. Citing safety of aircraft operations, the DGCA order said that A320 Neos fitted with PW1100 engines beyond ESN 450 have been grounded with immediate effect.
What has now being reported is that IndiGo had to replace Pratt & Whitney engines on its 32 A320 Neo aircraft at least 69 times in the period May 2016-November 2017. Of the 15 cases of engine problems in 2017, seven engines were manufactured by CFM International while half a dozen was made by Pratt & Whitney.
Although most domestic airlines in India operate planes manufactured by the Airbus, this grounding of flights is going to affect IndiGo and GoAir the most. Airbus currently offers two engine choices for its Airbus A320 Neos - PW1100G-JM manufactured by Pratt and Whitney and the CFM LEAP-1A engines made by CFM. Planes operated by Vistara and Air India have CFM engines while those operated by IndiGo and GoAir have PW1100 engines.
A Business Today report has quoted an IndiGo as saying that issues are related to non-detection of the chip, carbon seal lining or combustor chamber lining in Pratt & Whitney 1100 series engines. Indigo's boroscopic tests detected these anomalies in 69 instances, said the report.
The DGCA order has directed both IndiGo and GoAir to not refit PW1100 engines which are spare with them even in their inventory.
A report published in the Livemint in February said that Pratt and Whitney spent $10 billion to develop its fuel-efficient geared turbofan model for short-distance jets, but the engines suffered setbacks. The Pratt has reportedly come up with a fix, but it is still a long way from a permanent solution to the problem.
"The solution is based on a design with which the company has significant experience, and this solution has received all necessary regulatory approvals," Pratt said in a statement in February.
On February 9, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had issued an emergency airworthiness directive for A320 neo planes fitted with PW1100 engines having a particular serial number.
On February 13, DGCA had said that it was monitoring engine glitches to ensure that safety is not compromised at any time.
On February 21, P&W said it has come out with a revised configuration to address the latest problem in some of its engines powering A320 neo planes.