DGCA set to remove curbs on aircraft with P&W engines

The P&W engines have suffered multiple glitches leading to inflight shutdowns due to which DGCA had restricted EDTO operations of A320 and A321neo aircraft, which are used by IndiGo and GoAir.

Indian aviation regulator DGCA is set to give EDTO approval to Airbus 320 and 321 Neos fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines, which are used by IndiGo and GoAir.

EDTO or Extended Diversion Time Operations approval is mandatory for aircraft to take routes for which the nearest suitable airport, to make an emergency landing, is more than 60 minutes away.

The P&W engines have suffered multiple glitches leading to inflight shutdowns due to which DGCA had restricted EDTO operations of A320 and A321neo aircraft.

However, US and European aviation regulators have given this approval two years back.

According to a circular by DGCA, reviewed by Business Standard, the regulator has asked IndiGo to conduct a validation flight of 90 minutes by a 320 or 321 aircraft, after which permission will be given by the DGCA.

Validation or proving flights are required to demonstrate the readiness of IndiGo to conduct operations using the aircraft and to ensure that the airline has facilities, services, and personnel to do the same.

Restrictions on EDTO meant  IndiGo and GoAir were forced to use older A320ceo aircraft, which consumes more fuel, or take a longer route to destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, and Muscat, which extend beyond the 60-minute flight range from the nearest alternative airport.

DGCA removing the restrictions also means IndiGo will be able to explore new destinations in the Central Asian countries.

“EDTO validation flight for 90 minutes is granted provided that IndiGo is to ensure that at least one flight crew member has previous experience of EDTO Flight on A320 or A321,” Chandra Mani Pandey, an officer at DGCA’s flight safety department wrote to IndiGo on Thursday.

Two fight safety officers of the aviation regulator will inspect the flight. If results are satisfactory, EDTO approval for the aircraft will be given within 48 hours, a DGCA official said.

IndiGo is the world’s biggest customer for A320neo family aircraft with as many as 730 on order. Due to the glitches, last year IndiGo decided to switch away from P&W engines, placing a $20-billion order instead with rival CFM, a venture between General Electric and France’s Safran.

The approval for EDTO operations comes after IndiGo has successfully completed mandatory replacement of P&W engines turbine blades built with titanium with sturdier ones built with nickel-chromium alloy before the August 31 deadline set by the aviation regulator. Wadia group-owned GoAir has also replaced some of their engines.

As a result, IndiGo had to cut its capacity forecast by 2-3 per cent in Q4 of FY20. “While IndiGo has replaced all their engines, GoAir is yet to replace around 16 engines as they don’t intend to operate those aircraft as of now,” a DGCA official said.

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