Assure safety of P&W engines: Bombay High Court to DGCA

The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to list the steps being taken since 2007 to check the airworthiness of all Pratt & Whitney 1100 engines that power Airbus A320 New Engine Option (Neo) planes.

A Division Bench of Justices Naresh Patil and Justice G.S. Kulkarni was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Harish Agrawal, a businessman from Juhu.

The plea stated that A320 Neo aircraft fitted with P&W engines, manufactured by an American company, are malfunctioning and no action has been taken by DGCA against Indigo and Go Air Airlines who continue to fly such aircraft.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive for the A320 Neo on February 9, 2018. According to directive, an investigation was carried out to find out the cause of several occurrences of engine in-flight shut-down and rejected take-off in the Airbus A320 Neo aeroplanes.

PW1100 engines are classified into two types or series of numbers: 449, and 450 and beyond. In February, EASA ruled that engines having serial numbers 450 and beyond had combustion and other safety problems and those with only one 450 and beyond engine could continue to fly.

Advocate Advait Sethna, appearing for DGCA, said aircraft with even one 450 and beyond PW1100 engine were being grounded and seven IndiGo and two GoAir airplanes with one or both engines belonging to the specific serial number and had also been grounded.

The court said merely grounding some aircraft or following the directive of the EASA against the use of P&W 1100 engines belonging to the 450 and beyond series, was not enough.

The Bench said, “Your [DGCA] duty does not end merely at grounding some flights, but ensure that the people of India feel safe.”

Mr. Sethna also said that the DGCA has received a certification from P&W that all pre-450 series engines met safety standards. The court said, “Are you merely relying upon the directive and certification issued by the EASA, or, have you conducted your own study to ensure that all engines, even those that have not been flagged by the EASA, are absolutely safe?”

The bench also said it was the duty of the Union government and the DGCA to ensure that all aircraft were safe for travel and passengers were assured of their safety. The court went on to say, “All steps being taken to ensure that the flagged engines are not being used and that air travel was perfectly safe must be widely publicised and suggested a window should be opened to address all queries of the passengers and pacify their fears.”

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