Thursday, May 18, 2023

IndiGo aircraft grounding due Pratt engines "in high 30s"

New Delhi: In a relief from Pratt & Whitney’s (PW) unending engine woes, IndiGo will now start getting CFM engine-powered Airbus aircraft. Following constant snags in PW engines and subsequent delays in replacements after they go bust, India’s biggest airline (by domestic carriage) had in 2021 has selected 620 CFM International “LEAP-1A” engines to power its fleet of 310 new Airbus A320neo family of planes whose delivery was to begin this year.

On Thursday after reporting a profit of Rs 919.2 crore in the January-March 2023 quarter, IndiGo management was asked a lot of questions on PW engines in the investors concall. Airline CEO Pieter Elbers said the number of planed grounded due to PW engine issues was “in the high 30s”. Asked if the airline worried more planes may suffer due to PW issues, Elbers said, “We will now start getting CFM LEAP engine-powered Airbus and the mix will change.”

While cancelling all flights since May 3, Go First had put the blame squarely on PW for grounding half its fleet for months thereby causing massive loss to the airline. Go First has since gone in insolvency and there is no official word on when it will resume operations.

While PW is an American aerospace manufacturer and a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, CFM International is a 50/50 Franco-American joint venture between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines.

IndiGo management was asked if they will take Go planes and slots (something which happened after Jet Airways’ stopped flying in 2019) and they did not comment on the same.

While lessors had sought to repossess 45 of Go First’s 54 Airbus aircraft, NCLT’s admission of the airline insolvency plea grants it protection from repossession for six months to a year. Lessors have challenged this and moved NCLAT and high court. Only when it is decided how many planes remain with Go First and what kind of schedule and fleet they resume operations with if and when they do so, will the availability of planes and slots be known.

18/05/2023 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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