By Nisar Dharma / Irshad Khan
Srinagar, Mar 19: Commercial low-cost airliner, IndiGo is running a particular model of its seemingly defective carriers from Srinagar, despite at least eight instances of mid-air technical issues encountered in the last one week.
A Srinagar-Amritsar bound IndiGo A320neo aircraft was grounded soon after it took off on Sunday following a hydraulic leak from its engine.
Same day another A320neo aircraft was grounded in Jammu, again due to leakage from one of its engine.
IndiGo grounded yet another A320neo at New Delhi airport, again on Sunday, after the pilot detected a problem in its engine.
On March 12, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grounded 11 A320neo carriers–eight of IndiGo’s and three of GoAir.
The decision came soon after an IndiGo flight encountered a mid-air engine failure, forcing the Lucknow-bound flight to return to Ahmedabad, where it made an emergency landing.
That Airbus A320 Neo plane had 186 passengers on board.
“During operations, repetitive defects were reported on these aircraft by the operators. Distress in Combustion Chamber and oil chips warning due to wear of No. 3 bearing,” an official DGCA statement read.
The DGCA said it has not got a “firm commitment” from the US engine manufacturer Pratt and Whitney on addressing fresh safety concerns, which forced it to ground the fleet.
However, a source at the Srinagar airport told The Kashmir Monitor that IndiGo continues to run other A320neo aircrafts with PW 1100 engines, risking the lives of travellers.
“At present, they have around 32 A320neos in their fleet, of which at least 16 are in use. At least a couple of them fly in and out of Srinagar each day. Each neo-aircraft has a capacity of 190. Yesterday, soon after it took off from Srinagar, the pilot detected the issue and went for an emergency landing,” the source said.
He added: “the airline was taking a chance and not grounding all of such planes, since it would be a huge business loss to it.”
On the Srinagar flight, which had hydraulic leakage, IndiGo’s official spokesperson told The Kashmir Monitor that the “issue has been rectified and the aircraft is now fit to fly”.
“An A320 neo aircraft that operated on Delhi-Srinagar route was cleared after maintenance checks upon arrival at the Srinagar airport. However, during engine start the Pilot-in-Command observed a hydraulic (not oil) leakage from no 2 engine. The aircraft was immediately withdrawn to investigate the hydraulic leak. The issue has been rectified and the aircraft is now fit to fly,” read an email IndiGo spokeswoman Sakshi Batra sent to The Kashmir Monitor.
She, however, claimed that the Srinagar aircraft “did not have the same engine (PW 1100) type which was facing the issue.”
About the Mumbai bound plane grounded in Jammu, she wrote: “An A320 neo aircraft that operated Mumbai-Jammu, during maintenance checks was detected with leakage from #1 engine. This is a technical snag and it is being rectified. This is not related to the PW engine on-going concerns.”
The problem with the PW1100G engines was first red-flagged by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) last month, following which certain restrictions were imposed on flying such aircraft.