As the U.S. manufacturer tries to overcome glitches that have grounded some AirbusSE planes, regulators in India are stepping up scrutiny of Pratt & Whitney’s new jet engines.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in an interview in New Delhi that down from initial plans for every 1,000 hours, the geared turbofan engines are now being inspected after as few as 350 hours of operation. He said that the government denied Pratt’s request to allow some failed engines to continue to be used for short intervals and power plants that don’t meet all requirements will be pulled from service.
And after spending $10 billion developing the geared turbofan for narrow-body planes such as Airbus’ A320neo, Pratt, a unit of United Technologies Corp., is rushing to address the flaws. including some components that have not been as durable as expected, the engine has had a rocky introduction amid delivery delays and technical issues. The company is introducing fixes for the faults and is ramping up production rates.
“So far, we feel that it is not solved,” Raju said. “The inspections are more rigid now.”
The turbine maker said that certified for safe operations are all the A320neo planes powered by Pratt & Whitney. Pratt said it’s advising airlines that there is no longer any need to adjust the flight profiles while Raju referred to altitude restrictions on the engines.
“The durability of the engine’s entry-into-service configuration is being improved,” it said in an emailed statement. “We are working hand-in-hand with operators on a daily basis to address their in-service fleet issues.”
Making the country the largest customer of the new aircraft, a combined total of about 30 A320neos in their fleet, have been introduced by IndiGo, India’s largest airline, and Go Airlines India. But as Pratt has failed to provide enough spare engines that meet regulatory requirements, about a third of them have been grounded.
The Indogo airline’s president, Aditya Ghosh, said last month that it may be a year or so before Pratt implements all necessary design changes even as IndiGo pulled as many as nine A320neos from service on some days. some compensation from the engine maker as it struggles to fix the snags have already been received by the carrier, operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd.
the Leap, a new engine from CMF International Inc., a joint venture of General Electric Co., and France’s Safran SA is the competitor for Pratt’s geared turbofan which competes to power the A320neo family. Safran SA with Leap engines is flown by Air India Ltd. and Vistara, the Indian affiliate of Singapore Airlines Ltd.
(Adapted from Bloomberg)