In response to ongoing issues with Pratt & Whitney (PW) engines, India’s aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has directed the engine manufacturer to expedite the establishment of a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) hub in the country.
Citing the extensive fleet of Indian carriers equipped with PW powerplants, a DGCA official emphasized the critical nature of such a facility to address the persistent challenges faced by domestic airlines. Last week’s discussions between PW representatives and the DGCA highlighted the urgency of this requirement.
The issues, affecting the latest generation PW engines on the Airbus A320neo jets—primarily operated by IndiGo and the now-defunct GoAir—have persisted for half a decade, prompting concerns of widespread groundings for engine checks in the near future. IndiGo has projected a significant increase in aircraft groundings starting early next year due to the need for engine replacements.
In a statement to a leading national newspaper, PW’s president and country head, Ashmita Sethi, acknowledged India’s importance as a market, affirming commitments to enhance investments and considering the feasibility of an MRO based on various factors, including the local business climate and logistics associated with importing parts.
The urgency of the situation is compounded by PW’s recent advisories that foresee the removal of 600 to 700 engines for maintenance between 2023 and 2026, with a warning of increased aircraft downtime due to these additional inspections. The cause—a contamination issue in some engine components—could have severe repercussions for IndiGo, the world’s largest A320 operator, potentially leading to fare hikes reminiscent of those during GoAir’s operational shutdown.
The pressure from Indian regulators reflects a diminishing tolerance for the status quo, with demands for visible improvements and a more proactive approach from PW to mitigate the risks and uncertainties currently clouding the nation’s aviation sector.