May 22, 2018, 7:42 pm IST
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Shocking lapses expose DGCA’s failures

Shocking lapses expose DGCA’s failures

 Feb 13, 2018

Indigo, India’s biggest airline has seen a shocking 69 engine failures in 18 months on its A320 Neo Aircraft. DGCA’s documents accessed by Pen News reveal that failures occurred on the Pratt and Whitney Engines flown by the airline between 11th March 2016 and 15th September 2017. While the aviation regulator has failed to ground the fleet of the private airline, this is in stark contrast to the response of DGCA when Air India’s Dreamliner aircraft had battery problems in 2013. The entire fleet of the Dreamliner had then been grounded for months.

At a time that the Centre is trying to sell-off state owned Air India, DGCA’s act of omission raises serious questions about whether it is trying to protect private airlines by going soft on them? The A320 Neo aircraft is flown by both Indigo Airlines which has 32 aircrafts and Go Air which has 13 such planes currently.

In this case, some of the aircrafts have flown just 220 hours when problems with the engine were reported. Papers also reveal how 8 grounded aircraft need 10 engines with 2 aircraft needing both engines replaced. This has serious implications for aviation safety say experts as aircraft can fly with one engine failure. However, the event of both engines failing can lead to a potential disaster.

File notes also reveal how the problems were “known to the manufacturer before launch therefore modifications are being planned”. This raises some serious questions- Whether the manufacturer deliberately sold faulty equipment to India? If this was the case why didn’t DGCA immediately take action and ground the aircraft till engine problems were rectified? What incentive will the Engine manufacturer have to act if the DGCA drags its feet? Hasn’t the dilly dallying by DGCA jeopardized the lives of the flying public?

While the Airbus A320 Neo aircraft has a 16% better fuel efficiency than traditional A320 aircraft, in these days of low cost travel, can commercial concerns trump safety concerns? Interestingly, Qatar Air has in the past rejected the A320 Neo aircraft due to the failure and subsequent performance problems of the Pratt &Whitney Engine.

India is one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world and therefore the massive aircraft orders by Airlines like Indigo and Go Air have meant that about 40 percent of the A320 Neos manufactured globally are being flown here in India. This makes it all the more important for the aviation regulator to act in a manner that does not raise any questions about air safety. Otherwise it will seem that we are waiting for a major disaster before the Aviation regulator takes action.


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