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For months now, IndiGo has been on the news for all the wrong reasons. On January 21, 2019, soon after it took off from Lucknow airport, a P&W-powered A320neo aircraft of IndiGo was grounded after “high vibration” was observed in its engine by the pilot. As a precaution, the flight 6E-451, which was heading to Jaipur, was brought back to Lucknow. IndiGo’s technical team is currently inspecting the issue.
Some of the A320neos of Indigo and GoAir have been grounded due to Pratt and Whitney (P&W) engine woes. IndiGo is operated around 57 P&W-powered A320neo aircraft. IndiGo and GoAir have been banned from operating their A320neo planes to Port Blair by Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation due to problems in their P&W engines, reported Business Today.
The flight which departed from Lucknow at around 5 PM was expected to land in Jaipur at 6:30 PM. Due to vibration in the engine, it was returned to Lucknow soon after it departed. On January 8, in a three-hour meeting, senior executives of P&W, Airbus, IndiGo and GoAir sat with the civil aviation ministry and reviewed the on-ground and mid-air glitches that the engines have been facing for quite some time.
“(There is) zero tolerance for any violation of safety issues,” said Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, also mentioning that the passengers’ safety is what matters the most.
A press statement sent to The Logical Indian by Indigo read, “The pilot observed high vibration on engine number 2. As a precaution, he returned the aircraft to Lucknow. The aircraft is currently at Lucknow and being inspected by the technical team.”
This is not the first incident where an IndiGo Flight has faced issues mid-air. In the last few months, several such incidents have taken place, scaring passengers.
In January this year, on the Chennai-Kolkata sector, an IndiGo Airlines flight (6E 923) had to be returned to Meenambakkam’s Kamraj airport soon after it took off, due to technical glitches in the engine. “An IndiGo flight 6E 923 (Neo) operating Chennai-Kolkata route on January 03, 2019 returned to Chennai after takeoff due to a technical caution noted by the crew. The crew followed the normal operating procedures and asked for a priority landing. There was no engine shutdown and no emergency landing was declared as per the report,” read a press statement that Indigo sent The Logical Indian.
Again, on January 3 this year, an IndiGo Airbus A320neo plane faced an engine failure mid-air with a “loud bang”. Sources said that heavy vibrations and smoke came out of the aircraft. Midway, the plane was returned to Chennai due to damaged engine wheels. This was yet another incident involving Pratt & Whitney engine.
In July 2018, two IndiGo Airlines planes almost collided with each other mid-air over Bengaluru. The two planes, 6E 779 (Coimbatore-Hyderabad) and 6E 6505 (Bengaluru-Kochi), were seconds away from a dangerous collision.
In another incident that gave anxious moments to the passengers, an IndiGo flight from Port Blair to Hyderabad in November in 2018 tilted mid-air. As the A320 neo aircraft tilted to one side, the pilot just managed to bring it under control. This was yet another incident with a plane powered with Pratt & Whitney engines.
IndiGo is the largest airline of India and flies four out of every ten Indian people. Between the span of May 2016 to November 2017, at least 69 times it has had to replace Pratt & Whitney engines on 32 of its A320 Neo aircraft.
For obvious reasons, such astonishingly high numbers really raise questions on the safety of passengers in Indian skies. According to IndiGo, these mishaps are a result of non-detection of chip, carbon seal lining or combustor chamber lining in Pratt & Whitney 1100 series engines. These are not mere glitches and small issues, but an entire system taking care of several passengers who trust the company and spend money to travel by these planes.
Passengers hardly pay any less for IndiGo flights than they pay for other airlines, and the only thing they expect in return is safety. No major accidents have happened yet, but if the system in not taken care of immediately, passengers’ lives will not be free of risk. It is high time IndiGo looked into the matter and took appropriate steps.
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