- July 27, 2018, 10:50 AM
Indian budget airlines IndiGo and GoAir have proactively grounded eight Airbus A320neos following boroscope checks of the combustion chambers in their Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared turbofans. The groundings follow earlier AOG events involving GTFs, in which combustion chamber linings developed unanticipated hot spots, reducing their service life.
The problem with combustor lining degradation appears specific to India, where particulates in the air had also affected the PW1100G’s predecessor, the IAE V2500.
“Only India is experiencing AOGs due to combustor liner configuration,” said a Pratt & Whitney spokesperson. “We work closely with [IndiGo and GoAir] to support their fleet with the latest configuration engine, which includes the improved combustor liner.
“Engine removals are being planned and coordinated with the airlines in India as we continue to successfully retrofit the fleet with the latest-configuration engines,” added the spokesperson. “Some aircraft will be out of service temporarily as they perform these removals.” Spare engines will become available to support aircraft availability in August and onward, added Pratt.
IndiGo flies a fleet of 172 A320-family narrowbodies and 10 ATR turboprops. About 40 percent of the world’s geared turbofan-powered A320neos operate from India. Entry pains have involved an air-system fault, extended engine start times, and delivery delays due to fan blade production problems. While IndiGo has bridged the gap for supply of aircraft through wet-leased aircraft in the past year, it did not indicate in its statement whether or not it would do so this time.
“This is the first time such a major change in engine design has been done in decades,” Vishok Mansingh, CEO of Hyderabad-based regional airline TruJet, told AIN. “Leading-edge technology like the GTF has a degree of risk in its early stage of adoption. The benefits to the airline that accepts that risk are significant cost benefits and payback of a first mover’s advantage for competitors.”
Once installed, the revised combustor configuration has performed well in India, according to airline officials. Meanwhile, Pratt & Whitney has accelerated expansion of its maintenance, repair, and overhaul network to minimize entry-into-service “teething pains.”