A320neo troubles due to Indian climate: P&W
Firm says will fix snags as airlines fret
Pratt & Whitney has informed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation that Indian climatic conditions are primarily responsible for snags encountered in its engines fitted in Airbus A320 new engine option planes.
The American aircraft engine manufacturer has said that weather conditions unique to India such as high humidity, heat and saltiness due to the ocean were causing problems to A320neo plane engines, sources said.
“We saw some early distress on our PW1100G-JM engine combustor panels, primarily in the challenging environment of India. Modifications were implemented mid-last year and improvements are on track to be introduced by the end of this year,” Pratt & Whitney sources told The Hindu.
The Pratt & Whitney engines on Airbus’ fuel-efficient A320neo planes have encountered issues in two components — the combustor chamber lining and the No. 3 bearing seal — that start to wear out sooner than expected. The engines need to be replaced much earlier than in the normal replacement cycle. This has led to some air traffic disruptions as low-cost carriers IndiGo and GoAir using A320neo planes with Pratt & Whitney engines continue to face snags. The airlines had complained about the slow pace of engine replacements.
GoAir had said last week that of its six A320neo planes, one was grounded. IndiGo’s five planes are parked at present due to lack of engine spares. IndiGo has 141 A320s, of which 24 are A320 neos. IndiGo has signed a contract with Pratt & Whitney for the first 150 planes out of 430 A320 neo planes on order.
Although the A320neo fitted with P&W engines has faced problems globally too, sources said the premature degradation of the engine’s combustor chamber lining is a unique glitch faced in India due to its climate.
The engine maker is now building an improved design to replace all the engines for all airlines, sources said. “Since March, new engines and overhauled engines have incorporated improvements that have enhanced the engine’s durability. We have increased spare engine deliveries as well as overhauled engine returns with this improved design which should help to stabilise the current fleet,” sources in P&W said.
Senior executives from Pratt & Whitney met the DGCA in August to assure that the A320neo aircraft will not be grounded after September. The engine maker is compensating airlines for the operational disruptions caused by grounding of planes due to engine issues. Airlines expect the engine issues to be resolved by late 2018 or early 2019.