India grounds Pratt-powered A320neos

IndiGo cancelled 47 flights

Indian carriers have had three mid-air engine failures in less than a month, and the latest directive takes the total number of P&W geared turbofan-powered A320neos grounded to 14.

"Keeping in mind the safety of aircraft operations, Airbus 320 neos fitted with PW 1100 engines beyond ESN 450 have been grounded with immediate effect".

The DGCA has also ordered the airlines not to refit the engines even though there are spares in their inventories. IndiGo had grounded at least seven of the jets by July previous year, awaiting a fix for the engines.

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"We are working to mitigate the.situation by the end of the second quarter", said a statement from Pratt, a unit of United Technologies Corp. The corrective action has been approved and we have already begun to deliver production engines with the upgraded configuration.

"EASA has informed that they are evaluating some interim proposals and will be revising the emergency airworthiness directive in due course as soon as the current affected engines will be modified with a safer interim design".

Indigo has been asked to ground 8 A320 Neos.

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Besides today's incident, there were two - one with GoAir plane after take-off from Leh on February 24 and another was with IndiGo following take-off from Mumbai on March 5.

Under the Pratt plan, all defective components would be replaced by early June, requiring some planes to fly with one affected engine for nearly three more months.

Speaking to Times of India, Air safety expert Capt Mohan Ranganathan said that the "DGCA shouldn't have waited this long to ground the aircraft". The problem with the PW1100G engines was first red-flagged by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) last month, following which certain restrictions were imposed on flying such aircraft. "Hundreds of passengers were stranded after a number of flights were cancelled by both IndiGo and GoAir in the wake of some aircraft going out of operations due to the DGCA order", a source said. GoAir has 13 such planes.

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The DGCA's significant decision also comes on a day when Suresh Prabhu took over the additional charge of Civil Aviation Ministry following the resignation of NDA ally TDP's leader Ashok Gajapathi Raju from the post last week.

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