Pratt & Whitney Engines Giving Indian Carriers a Tough Time

Akshay Mantri

InterGlobe Aviation’s IndiGo (6E) and The Wadia Group’s GoAir (G8) are the two main carriers in India with huge A320neo orders from Airbus, with IndiGo (6E) being the world’s biggest customer with 430 on order & GoAir with 144, respectively. As a part of their order, both of the companies have selected the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines for all of their A320neos. IndiGo and GoAir have been facing numerous issues with many of their new neo’s due to faults within the PW1100 engine.

IndiGo has 410 Airbus A320neo aircraft on order. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The first reports of the NEO’s issues started coming up as soon as both of the carriers received their respective orders. Back on the 21st of January, Indigo flight 248 from Mumbai to Delhi encountered some major engine issues on takeoff when the P&W1127 engine attached to the starboard wing sparked and emitted a loud bang, prompting the crew to abort the takeoff at a low speed. The aircraft was subsequently grounded for roughly four weeks and brought back into service after the engine was replaced.

Back on February 14th of this year, GoAir A320neo VT-WGC was operating flight 329 from Mumbai to Delhi when the crew requested an emergency landing after noticing a problem with the P&W1127 engine on the port side of the aircraft. After informing Delhi ATC of the event, the aircraft landed safely and was taken to a GoAir hangar for investigation. It was found that a bleed air problem caused the engine to reduce thrust mid-flight. After a week or so, the aircraft returned to service after an engine exchange.

GoAir operates a fleet of 5 A320neo’s with 139 on order from Airbus. GoAir has an extensive Indian domestic network. (Photo: Layoverhub / Akshay Mantri)

It has been made  clear that the PW1100 engine has many manufacturing defects and that Airbus and Pratt & Whitney need to make some minor adjustments on their newest product. The A320neo and P&W engine option, being a new aircraft type as well as a new engine type, require lots of time to mature in their operations. Indigo has grounded 5 of its A320neos  (VT-ITA, VT-ITG, VT-ITJ, VT-ITM, VT-ITS) from its fleet due to the faulty engines, and both IndiGo and GoAir are also facing delays in receiving planes from Airbus due to ongoing problems with engines developed by Pratt & Whitney. “We are aware that a limited number of Pratt & Whitney GTF-powered A320 aircraft are temporarily out of service for engine upgrades,” the engine maker said in a statement.

Pratt & Whitney is ready to compensate IndiGo as the manufacturer struggles to fix glitches in the engines that power the A320neo, with that being done the engine maker has also told the Indian Government that it will resolve the technical glitches that have affected its engines and hurt operations of two Indian airlines by September 2017. Since the grounding of the aircraft , IndiGo and GoAir have since started dry leasing some A320’s to compensate for the huge delays in deliveries by Airbus. GoAir has previously wet leased two of Small Planet Poland’s A320s (SP-HAH & SP-HAG) between October 18th, 2016 and April 1st, 2017 to help pick up the slack in the schedule created from the grounding.

The PW1100 engine has undergone intense testing since its launch, raising questions on how it can fail twice within the same year. (Photo: Pratt & Whitney)

In a report, InterGlobe Aviation Chief Financial Officer Rohit Philip said, “To make up for the shortfall, we had to go to the aircraft-leasing market, and had to enter into short-term leases for used A320s.” Grounding the NEO’s gets expensive quickly, with extra parking costs and maintenance costs adding up every day.

Indigo has also said in the past that it may consider a change in the engine type and switch to the CFM International “LEAP” engine, created by an alliance between General Electric Co. and Safran SA if glitches & faults continue to exist with the P&W engines. “A320NEO’s have not been delivered as per the plan with Airbus,” InterGlobe Aviation Chief Financial Officer Rohit Philip said in a press release. Thanks to both carriers having large orders for aircraft spanning over many years, Airbus still has plenty of time to work on the quality of it’s aircraft before a substantial amount of orders are fulfilled. Hopefully, these recent issues are just a minor bump in the booming Indian aviation industry.

Featured image by Layoverhub writer Akshay Mantri

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