IndiGo, GoAir are getting a slight break in a series of PW1100G engine woes. The Indian regulatory authorities have recently extended the deadline for replacing the engines in their Airbus A320neo fleets. However, IndiGo CEO admits that solving Pratt & Whitney engine problems remains a challenge. 

IndiGo, Go Air PW110G inspections

Having first introduced PW1100G-powered Airbus A320neos to their fleets in the spring of 2016, IndiGo currently has 92 and Go Air 35 of these aircraft, according to information provided by India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). 

During the three years of operations, both Indian airlines have already experienced multiple PW1100G engine failure incidents and plane groundings related to the issue. In one instance, IndiGo even faced the prospect of having its whole A320neo fleet grounded, as per DGCA request. Fortunately for the airline, the High Court of Delhi dismissed the regulatory authority’s plea.

Having been asked to complete engine checks earlier in 2019, IndiGo and Go Air are now tasked with replacing old, potentially faulty engines with new and modified ones. In October 2019, DGCA told the airlines to modify some of their Pratt & Whitney-fitted aircraft within 15 days to avoid their grounding. 

The goal was to have at least one modified engine on planes that have accumulated over 2,900 hours. IndiGo has 16 and Go Air - 13 such planes. However, as the airlines appeared to have been unable to achieve the goal within the given timeframe, on November 15, DGCA has reportedly extended the deadline by an additional week. 

In addition, IndiGo was ordered on November 1, 2019 to replace all old Pratt & Whitney engines with new, modified ones in its A320neo fleet by January 31, 2020. This deadline has not been extended as of yet.

The carrier’s CEO has admitted that the requirement remains challenging. “It’s a challenge. But we have every intention of meeting it. Pratt is helping us and we are trying to make that work as fast as we can,” Ronojoy Dutta, IndiGo CEO revealed during the Dubai Airshow, as reported by Reuters. 

How much is India affected by Pratt & Whitney engine issues? 

IndiGo and GoAir are the only two airlines in India that fly Airbus A320neo aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 1100 series engines. Unfortunately for them, the model is stained with engine problems. 

The PW1100G is one of two engine options available for Airbus A320neo. The turbofan commenced commercial service in 2016. The same year, the first technical problems of it emerged. 

Since then, significant technical issues have been experienced on these engines worldwide, including Combustion Chamber distress-Block B & Block C, #3 Bearing Pre Mod & Post Mod failures, N2 transient vibration, Low Pressure Turbine (LPT) failure, HPC (High Pressure Compressor) rear knife edge seal failures, and Gear Box failures, as listed by India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Half of the problems remain to be fixed. 

Despite the fact that only two carriers in the country have A320neo affected by the problem in their fleet, Indian airlines operate approximately a quarter of all aircraft affected by the issue, according to the DCGA estimations. The regulatory authority estimates that 436 PW1100G-JM-powered A329neos operate worldwide, 127 of them ‒ in India. 

They have also been more affected by some of the PW1100G engines problems, particularly Low Pressure Turbine (LPT) failures. Of 27 such events recorded globally between 2017 and August 2019, over half (15) affected Indian operators. In contrast, only four of the 18 cases of MGB failures fell on Indian carriers.