In a relief to IndiGo, aviation regulator DGCA on Monday decided to extend the deadline for the budget carrier to replace all 135 unmodified Pratt and Whitney (PW) engines on A320neo aircraft from January 31 to May 31.
Four Air Turn Back (ATB)/Inflight Shut Down (IFSD) events were witnessed on Airbus A320Neo aircraft operated by Indigo in a week during October 2019 due to the failure of 3rd stage LPT (low pressure turbine) blades.
Stating that "desperate measures" were required to "put things in order", the DGCA had on November 1 told IndiGo to replace the PW engines in 97 A320neo aircraft "at all costs" by January 31 or they would be grounded.
In some aircraft only one of the PW engines is unmodified and has to be replaced.
Later, unsatisfied with IndiGo's speed in replacing the unmodified PW engines, the regulator on November 25 had instructed it to ground an old A320neo family aircraft with an unmodified PW engine for every new A320neo plane added to its fleet to prevent large-scale cancellation of flights from January 31 onwards.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stated on Monday that it believes that the unmodified PW engines do contain an "unsafe condition, which is prone to undesirable outcomes" and therefore, need to be dispensed with.
"Post DGCA order dated 1st November 2019, all stake holders i.e. the airline and the aircraft and the engine manufacturer have made significant efforts towards completion of the task. They have jointly and severally submitted a complete action plan, which finds the change of engines for the entire fleet feasible by the end of June 2020," said the regulator in its press statement on Monday.
"It involves procurement of about 135 engines and month wise details have been worked out to achieve the goal. Needless to say, the timeline looks impressive if we recall that originally it was expected to be accomplished in 14 months i.e. from November 2019 to December 2020," it added.
However, DGCA felt that it can be compressed further and should be achievable by May 2020.
"Therefore, the revised timeline for complete removal of unmodified engines from the fleet is May 31st 2020. It is further laid down that no aircraft with unmodified engine in Indigo fleet shall be allowed to fly after that," said the regulator on Monday.
The PW engine-powered A320 neo planes in the fleets of IndiGo and GoAir have been facing glitches both mid-air and on-ground since their induction way back in 2016.