Examine safety of previous version of Airbus 320neo also, HC tells DGCA

A total of 45 Neo aircraft are operated in the country by Air India, Vistara, Indigo and GoAir.

mumbai Updated: Mar 17, 2018 12:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
A total of 45 Neo aircraft are operated in the country by Air India, Vistara, Indigo and GoAir.(HT File)

Four days after the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grounded 11 aircraft belonging to IndiGo and Go Air for being fitted with faulty post-450 series Neo P&W 1100 engines, the Bombay high court on Friday said the aviation regulator should also examine the safety and airworthiness of the pre-450 series Neo P&W 1100 engines.

“When you have grounded aircraft with post-450 series engines, the question arises: is the pre-450 series safe,” said the division bench of justice Naresh Patil and justice Girish Kulkarni. Besides, the judges said the post-450 series was nothing but a modified version of the pre-450 series and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has not certified the latter to be safe.

“You must assure the people at large that these pre-450 series engines are safe and airworthy in Indian weather conditions and with the infrastructure available in India,” the judges told advocate Advait Sethna, who represented the DGCA. “There cannot be any compromise when it comes to aviation safety,” they added.

Sethna, however, maintained that the civil aviation regulator had not found any problem with the series. “There is no problem with the pre-450 series,” Sethna told the bench. He said that after conducting its own independent study, the DGCA has taken a conscious decision in the larger public interest to not allow aircraft fitted with post-450 series engines.

A total of 45 Neo aircraft are operated in the country by Air India, Vistara, Indigo and GoAir. However, the affected aircraft are only operated by the latter two airlines. According to the airlines, 626 flights have been cancelled up to March 31.

“We understand the difficulty IndiGo passengers have faced in the past few days due to the cancellation of some of our flights, pursuant to our compliance with the DGCA’s directive concerning a few of our aircraft. However, we would like to assure our passengers that between 96% to 98% of our flights are operating as usual. On any given day, we cancel less than 4% of our flights. And in order to ensure our passengers suffer no inconvenience as a result of the cancellation, we have been working hard to accommodate all affected passengers on alternate flights on our vast network. We are also actively engaged with our engine and aircraft manufacturers in finding a long term solution at the earliest. We would like to assure our passengers that the operations will be normalised soon.” Said an IndiGo spokesperson. Meanwhile the Delhi high court said that it would not issue orders to ground the entire fleet of IndiGo’s A320neo aircraft, in response to a plea alleging that the planes are “flying coffins” due to their defective engines.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar, however, agreed to hear the other prayers of the plea which also sought publication the details of incidents of engine failure and accidents caused by these on the website of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) within 24 hours of their occurrence.

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 12:55 IST