India Prepares To Remove Restrictions On A320neo Engines

The Indian aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), is set to give approval to the Pratt & Whitney engines used on the A320neo. Operated primarily by carriers IndiGo and GoAir, the engines had been involved in a number of incidents over the past year, causing inflight shutdowns.

Indigo A320neo
India’s regulator is preparing to remove the restrictions on A320neo operations. Photo: Airbus

Removal of restrictions

The DGCA had placed restrictions on airlines operating A320neos without the required engine replacements. Airlines were not allowed to operate flights more than 60 minutes away from a suitable airport for an emergency landing. This meant airlines were forced to either operate such flights with older A320ceo aircraft or to take a longer route in order to comply with the requirement.

Nevertheless, IndiGo and GoAir have been busy revamping their fleets and are now set to secure the EDTO approval to resume longer flights. EDTO stands for Extended Diversion Time Operations and is the equivalent of ETOPS, although the latter is the more commonly used term.

Indigo A320neo
A validation flight will be required. Photo: Airbus

To remove the restrictions, the DCGA has requested IndiGo performs a validation flight of 90 minutes in duration, using either the A320neo or A321neo. Upon successful completion of this flight, the restrictions should be removed, allowing IndiGo and GoAir to begin operating these aircraft normally.

According to a report in Business Standard, IndiGo has replaced all the affected engines on its aircraft. GoAir is yet to undertake replacements on around 16 engines, but due to the current downturn in travel, it does not need to operate these aircraft at the present time.

GoAir A320neo
GoAir still has some engines to replace, but doesn’t need those aircraft right now. Photo: Airbus

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A long-awaited resolution

The end of this saga will come as a welcome relief, particularly to IndiGo, which is the world’s largest operator of the A320neo aircraft. The issues had plagued the airline, with four incidents in just one week in October last year.

Indigo A320neo
IndiGo is the largest operator of the A320neo family in the world. Photo: Airbus

In January 2020, IndiGo suffered the 22nd incident involving the Pratt & Whitney engine. The airline had been working hard to replace engines on all its 98 A320neos but had missed the first deadline set by the DGCA. The deadline was pushed to May this year, and then again through to the end of August, at which time the Minister for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri, ordered no aircraft with two unmodified engines to be used on passenger flights.

The issue with the P&W engines is a known problem, and the manufacturer has been hard at work fixing the issues and installing replacement engines for its customers. However, its action didn’t come quick enough for IndiGo, who last year placed a $10 billion order with rival engine maker CFM for its future fleet powerplants.

With any luck, IndiGo and GoAir will have their neos back in good order in the coming days, and their passengers should no longer endure the hair-raising experience of a mid-flight engine shutdown.