No more emergency landings for P&W without very serious repercussions

Eleanor Steed
By Eleanor Steed August 23, 2017 13:10

No more emergency landings for P&W without very serious repercussions

There is nothing wrong with the aircraft, but an aircraft is only as good as its engines. Right now, the catalogue of engine failures across the P&W-powered A320neo fleet is astonishing.

Many of the in-service P&W powered-A320neos have had to have some sort of corrective work carried out – with a list of issues from failure to start to loss of power and emergency landings. P&W is correcting the problems as it goes and the company is compensating airlines involved at speed but the risk of significant reputational damage to all companies involved, especially the airlines, is possible unless these issues cease.

In February 2017, the Indian Aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), enforced boroscopic examinations of all P&W engines at Indigo and GoAir. Following the grounding of 80 flights last Friday by Indigo, the total number of flights in India grounded by the new P&W engines on A320neo airframes now totals 747 between June 21, 2017 and today. P&W would have paid compensation in all cases but passengers will see all of this as Indigo and GoAir’s problem to resolve. Our reliable sources state that the DGCA will likely press P&W to make public the problems on its engines, and if any more emergency landings occur within India then the DGCA is likely to ground the P&W-powered A320neo fleet until a solution is found. Other regulators are watching what happens next.

Pratt & Whitney spokesperson, Matthew Bates, gave the following statement via email:

“We are aware of recent reports regarding the Pratt & Whitney-powered Airbus A320neo fleet. As we have communicated previously, the durability of the engine’s entry-into-service configuration is being improved. We understand that the issues experienced to date have disrupted our customers’ operations. We are working hand-in-hand with them on a daily basis to address their in-service fleet issues.

“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 stabilize the current fleet.

“The Pratt & Whitney PurePower GTF engine employs advanced technology and has been in operation for more than one year. It has more than 200,000 hours of passenger service and is utilized by 13 operators flying 250 flights per day to over 100 destinations on four continents.”

Pratt & Whitney has also reiterated its commitment to producing 350-400 Geared TurboFan engines in 2017.

Conjecture remains over whether the engines in question have common faults or various faults in various sections of the engine(s). P&W has done a great job of ensuring that this information is not public knowledge thus far due to airline compensation rules, however once the DGCA gets further involved this situation is likely to change.

A good indicator of if the engine problems are common is whether the same aircraft are being grounded more than once with engine issues. If they are not, then the issue could be restricted to a known problem that is being fixed through part changes for engines in service. However, if the same aircraft are grounded more than once, it may indicate a more serious and costly set of problems. One thing is for sure – no more emergency landings will be tolerated in India.

Eleanor Steed
By Eleanor Steed August 23, 2017 13:10