Another grounding of A320neo raises security doubts

An A320 (non-Neo) aircraft with VT-INZ registration and operating on Cochin-Mumbai route and another A320 (non-Neo) aircraft bearing VT-IFU registration operating on the Mumbai-Goa sector had technical snags detected during departure, IndiGo said. IndiGo earlier announced that its A320 Neo aircraft that operated on the Bengaluru-Delhi route on Sunday was withdrawn in Delhi for a maintenance check to attend to a reported defect. Both aircraft were immediately withdrawn for rectification. However, during engine start, the Pilot-in-Command observed a hydraulic (not oil) leakage from #2 engine.

"We are actively engaged with the engine manufacturer on getting all our aircraft back in the skies in the coming weeks".

That led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and about a 5 per cent fall in the share price of IndiGo's parent, InterGlobe Aviation, over the past week. The airline also faced problem with a Delhi- Srinagar flight on Sunday that witnessed hydraulic leak from one engine after it landed at Srinagar.

More number of flights, however, were cancelled in February this year (0.89%) as compared to the corresponding period last year (0.39%), affecting 44,294 passengers.

While these flights have been so far cancelled only for a few weeks, the disruption may go on for as long as Pratt & Whitney takes to send spare engines with the issues addressed completely.

Five of its aircraft - three A320neos and two A320ceo (current engine option) planes – have seen glitches in the last 24 hours, resulting in the grounding of another A320neo.With this, IndiGo now has as many as 12 A320neos on the ground (See: Indigo forced to ground another A320neo as P&W engine problems persist). Check the full list of cancelled flights here. Till date, 14 A320Neos with these operators fitted engines beyond ESN 450 have been grounded.

The A320Neo was introduced by Airbus, and the baseline of A320neo jetliner has a choice of two new-generation engines (the PurePower PW1100G-JM from Pratt and Whitney and the LEAP-1A from CFM International) and features large, fuel-saving wingtip devices known as Sharklets.

  • Steve Townsend