Three Indigo-operated A320neo planes grounded after Airbus engine issue

An Airbus A320neo powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines

An Airbus A320neo powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines at Hartford Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. Pratt & Whitney

Low-priced carrier IndiGo, the country's biggest airline, has grounded three of its Airbus A320 new engine option (neo) aircraft, following a safety alert from the European aviation regulator EASA over some variants of the Pratt and Whitney engines used globally.

"Our precautionary measure of grounding the three aircraft resulted in cancellations of some of our flights", it said.

"But we feel it was the best decision in the interest of our safe and reliable operations".

In a statement, Airbus said it had informed the airline customers affected by the issue.

In brief, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued, as usual, an emergency airworthiness directive in which it explains that "several engine stops in flight as well as takeoff interruptions have been reported".

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The DGCA official stressed that the above issue is entirely different from issues of bearing failure and combustion chamber failure experienced initially by PW1100 engines, which, he said, have been addressed. Airbus has issued an Alert Operators Transmission (AOT) providing instructions "to de-pair the affected engines and discontinue [ETOPS] for aircraft fitted with affected engines", according to EASA.

"This is something done hand-in-hand with the regulators to put some teeth behind the recommendations that we made", an Airbus spokesperson said. "Product Safety Boards of PW and Airbus post evaluating the PW1100G-jm engine issue decided that all neo deliveries are postponed till further notice".

There are 113 A320neo family aircraft powered by the Pratt engines in service (the CFM Leap-1A engine is also an option on A320neo-family aircraft). The root cause remains under investigation, but the preliminary findings suggest that engines with the aft hub modification are "more susceptible" to an in-flight shutdown, EASA adds.

Technical issues with certain engines of IndiGo's A320neo planes had led to the grounding of many flights past year.

Neither the aircraft manufacturer nor the agency disclosed what airlines are operating aircraft with affected engines. On certain days, the airline had seen as many as nine of its aircraft grounded due to unavailability of spare engines leading to flight disruptions.

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