NEW DELHI: Mid-air snags and wildlife intrusions on runways continue unabated, and showing no signs of abating. Two GoFirst Airbus A320neos on Tuesday experienced trouble with their Pratt & Whitney (PW) engines, with one diverting and the other returning to origin safely. Another Leh-Delhi flight had to abort takeoff at the origin due to a dog on the runway, making it the third issue for the airline in a day.
GoFirst’s Mumbai-Leh flight (G8-386) diverted to Delhi while a Srinagar-Delhi service (G8-6202) returned to Srinagar due to engine snags. While ordering a probe, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has grounded both these A320neos and they will fly again only after the regulator’s nod.
Comments were sought from the airline on these issues and are awaited till the time of publishing story.
“An A320neo (VT-WGA) diverted to Delhi following a snag in engine number two’s ‘engine interface unit’. The other A320neo (VT-WJG) returned to Srinagar following a snag in engine number two ‘exhaust gas temperature overlimit’,” said a senior DGCA official. And the third A320neo (VT-WJJ) that was to operate a Leh-Delhi flight as G8-226 “was involved in reject take off due to dog on runway,” officials said.
Since there have been several snags on engines of both Pratt & Whitey and CFM, the regulator is going to rope them in for the ongoing investigations and quiz them about two things — why are the faults happening so frequently and what are they doing to rectify the same. Airbus and Boeing are also likely to be spoken to about the spurt in snags that are not related to engines. Airlines’ maintenance and operations are anyway under the regulator’s scanner.
Aircraft maintenance technicians of both GoFirst and IndiGo have been reporting sick at some airports in past few weeks to protest poor salaries. Following a spate of incidents across airlines, the DGCA had on Monday identified “improper identification of cause of a reported defect and non-availability of required certifying staff to cater to multiple scheduled arrivals / departures in a short interval” as contributory factors for this spurt.
The DGCA had on Tuesday also faulted airlines for improperly “resorting to frequent one-off authorisation to (some) certifying staff at transit stations” for the recent snags. Based on these findings, it has directed that aircraft at base and transit stations shall be released by certifying staff holding aircraft maintenance engineer licence. Airlines have been asked to take care of these issues by July 28.
“In last four months, there have been at least one Pratt & Whitney and three CFM engine snags. They all had different issues and were commanded shutdown. They are being investigated closely in consultation with the original equipment manufacturers (PW & CFM),” a senior DGCA officials investigating these snags had recently told TOI.
Engine manufacturers say the “environment” of the Middle East and India — hot, dusty, sandy and humid (in India’s case) — is the most difficult for their machines. The behaviour of engines in cold and dry places is different than those operating in a harsh environment, they say, adding that this issue is being taken care of through technological means.
Asked about rising incidence of engine snags, CFM had recently told TOI: “Safety is our first priority. We are working closely with our customers and DGCA. We are committed to supporting our customers and minimise operational disruptions.”
Comments were sought from PW and awaited.