Three Indigo-operated A320neo planes grounded after Airbus engine issue

Pratt & Whitney engine issue could ground some planes

The European Aviation Safety Agency on Friday imposed restrictions on the use of recently delivered A320neo-family jets with engines starting at a certain serial number.

Firstly, EASA has said that if an aircraft with both engines being affected has completed three flight cycles after the issuance of the airworthiness directive, it should not operate. The grounded aircraft are powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. The root cause remains under investigation, but the preliminary findings suggest that engines with the aft hub modification are "more susceptible" to an in-flight shutdown, EASA adds.

In a statement, Pratt & Whitney said it is working with customers to resolve the issue, which affects the knife edge seal in the high pressure compressor aft hub on the engine.

"Our precautionary measure of grounding the three aircraft resulted in cancellations of some of our flights", it said.

A Pratt spokesperson said the issue relates to a "limited sub-population" of PW1100G engines.

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According to commentators, the problem with a core part of the engine comes as the latest in a series of setbacks suffered by the company with its geared turbofan engines.

The problem could become much bigger if the engine supplier cannot find a quick fix, as the delivery schedule of future A320neo aircraft will likely be seriously affected in that case.

Neither the aircraft manufacturer nor the agency disclosed what airlines are operating aircraft with affected engines. The company has set aside about 40-45 engines to serve as spares while previously delivered engines are taken off wing to incorporate the durability upgrades. It is also said extended-range, twin-engine operations (ETOPS) can online be performed with two unaffected engines.

"Although we have not experienced any related issues with our engines, we immediately removed the plane from service", the airline said in a statement.

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