India is allowing flights with faulty engines to fly anywhere – except one city

IndiGo's first Airbus A320neo Reuters
  • IndiGo and GoAir’s flights to Port Blair with their Airbus A320neo have been banned.
  • Both airlines use Pratt & Whitney engines, which have caused many mid-air scares.
  • However, the government has allowed the airlines to operate all other flights.
After multiple mid-air scares and incidents of smoke inside flights, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the regulatory body under the civil aviation ministry has now banned IndiGo and GoAir from flying their Airbus A320neo aircraft to Port Blair.

The ban extends to flying the Airbus A320neo aircraft to any other overseas route, where an alternate landing option is more than an hour away, should one of the engines develop a snag.

“This restriction has been imposed for safety reason as there must be an airport within one hour of flying time during entire journey of A320neo with PW engines so that the plane can safely land at the nearest alternate on a single engine when one engine develops a snag,” a senior regulatory official told The Times of India.

For some time now, there have been complaints about the Pratt & Whitney engines in the aircraft. Despite the risks, flights continue to operate on all other routes within India without any restrictions. “We have proactively complied with the DGCA circular,” IndiGo said in response to queries from Business Insider.

Currently, IndiGo operates over 40 A320neo aircraft, while GoAir has 30 of the said aircraft.

“If it is risky flying an aircraft with engines having a high rate of in-flight shutdowns, then it’s much better you don’t fly it, as a precaution to avert a catastrophe. Unfortunately, airlines will have a hard time keeping things going from a network perspective, and (it) would mean a significant revenue hit, for sure,” Mark Martin, CEO of aviation consultancy firm Martin Consulting told Quartz in March 2018.

Jayant Sinha, the junior minister for civil aviation, met with DGCA authorities on January 8 to take stock of the risks with Pratt and Whitney engines, following a glitch on an IndiGo flight from Kolkata to Chennai. The DGCA reportedly decided to review the performance of Airbus A320 aircraft fitted with the P&W 1100 series engines.

In November 2018, an IndiGo Hyderabad-Port Blair flight had reportedly suffered engine failure right after take off and had to go for an emergency landing. However, the aviation company declined to have had any such incident and called it “false news”.

GoAir is yet to respond to BI’s queries on the ban, and on the findings revealing issues with the engines.

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