While new generation PW engines for the Airbus A320neo family of planes — used by IndiGo and erstwhile GoAir — have been having a series of issues for last 5-6 years now, the worst impact is likely to be felt soon with hundreds of these engines going to be grounded for checks globally.
On Friday, IndiGo — which already has about 50 planes grounded for months awaiting PW replacement engines — said it expects a high number of planes on ground from early next year due to PW’s latest issue.
“We have asked PW to have an MRO in India. They need to give the required importance to Indian carriers given the size of fleet which is simply very large,” said DGCA sources. GoAir, which collapsed this summer, had squarely blamed PW for its shutting down. A PW team had met DGCA officials last week.
Asked if PW will open a MRO in India, its president and country head (India) Ashmita Sethi told TOI: “India is a priority country for us. We are making major investments and increasing our footprint here. We will determine the most effective way to support our customers here. Yes, we are open to exploring MRO interest in India and that would be based on many factors including business case, competitive labor, and imports of parts.”
However, things could get a lot worse before they improve. The engine-maker recently warned that “600 to 700 engines will be removed for shop visits between 2023 and 2026 (and) the accelerated removals and incremental shop visits will result in higher aircraft on ground.”
The “accelerated removals” have become necessary as PW detected “powder metal contamination” that can lead to some engine components cracking. As the world’s biggest customer for A320 family aircraft, IndiGo could be badly hit. A capacity crunch in the skies will mean fares skyrocketing — something witnessed this summer when GoAir collapsed.
Clearly, Indian authorities are now running out of patience with PW. “Things are simply not improving on PW end. They have said visibility on impact of their latest issue will be provided in the next few days. There is simply too much uncertainty. PW must show some “visible improvement” on the ground and act quickly,” say sources.