The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has called to urgently address the issue involving three Pratt & Whitney (PW) engines experiencing in-flight shutdowns on IndiGo flights between August 29 and September 3. These incidents have raised alarm bells globally regarding PW engines used in Airbus A320 neo family planes.

The DGCA has called for immediate and high-level intervention from PW to address the issues effectively. It has urged PW to identify the likely causes of such problems and explore the possibility of early detection of engine deterioration through testing, rather than waiting for in-flight engine failures. Additionally, PW is required to provide comprehensive data on global engine failures and propose measures to mitigate them, according to a senior official.

DGCA sources said, “As on September 11, PW requires removal of up to 600 engines (globally) between 2023 and 2026, with most of the removals in quarter 1 of 2024 (January-March). PW will issue a service bulletin in the next 60 days with the fleet management action plan.”

In response to DGCA’s directive, IndiGo, as a precautionary measure, conducted boroscopic inspections (BSI) on PW engines with over 2,500 hours of service on its Airbus A321 aircraft. Fortunately, no abnormalities were found during the inspections.

Engine shutdowns

The series of incidents began on August 29, 2023, when two domestic IndiGo routes, operated on A321 aircraft, experienced engine shutdowns in flight. Thanks to the twin-engine design’s safety, both flights were able to land safely, one at its destination and the other returning to its origin. The flight crew noticed high vibration and low oil pressure in engine number one, prompting in-flight shutdowns. Subsequent examinations revealed metallic chips on the oil chip detectors in both cases. A similar incident occurred on September 3 involving an Airbus A320 flying from Amritsar to Delhi.

With the aviation community closely monitoring the situation, the collaborative efforts of DGCA, Pratt & Whitney, and IndiGo aim to ensure the safety and reliability of the engines powering Airbus A320neo family planes. The upcoming service bulletin and fleet management action plan from PW will be crucial in addressing these concerns and preventing further in-flight incidents.