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IndiGo sets 30,000 feet altitude limit for Airbus A320neos to reduce engine strain


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IndiGo has asked its pilots to fly snag-hit A320neo planes at a lower altitude, 30,000 feet, and not the usual 36,000 feet, to reduce strain on engines even though it will mean higher fuel burn. GoAir CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer said in an interview in February that Pratt & Whitney “will support us properly with spare engines and other support needs to be there so we can overcome the initial phase and don’t have any flight disruptions”.


A Pratt & Whitney spokesman said it has no comment on the subject.


Earlier this month, the engine maker said there were no safety issues in the planes and replacement engines were being sent to India when required. Still, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked IndiGo and GoAir to increase surveillance of these planes, besides specifying other restrictions on when and where to fly them.


In January, an IndiGo flight had a so-called rejected take-off at Mumbai. In February, a GoAir flight from Delhi had to return to the airport after an engine fire 15 minutes into the flight. In the same month, a GoAir flight had to make an emergency landing and an IndiGo flight had to fly minus passengers to Delhi from Baroda.


Spokespersons for GoAir and IndiGo declined to comment for this story.


Analysts say the two airlines are facing teething troubles that early buyers of new aircraft do. They point to Air India’s troubles with Boeing’s Dreamliner. Usually, such problems are sorted out within the first two years of a new aircraft being launched.


In this case too, “technical issues will be sorted out in one-and-a-half years”, Prock-Schauer said.


IndiGo, which was the launch customer for the A320neo, has about 411 planes on order; it has so far inducted 19 in its 131-plane fleet. GoAir flies less than half-a-dozen of them and has about 140 on order. The planes, powered by fuel-efficient engines, are key to both airlines’ low cost model.


On 21 March, Ashim Mittra, vice-president (flight operations), IndiGo, said in a note to pilots that Pratt & Whitney had proposed limiting the altitude of flying to 30,000 feet for A320neo planes to avoid a possible glitch in the engine lubrication system and that, effective 22 March, IndiGo had decided to adopt the recommendation. Mint has seen a copy of the note. Since flying at lower altitudes consumes more fuel, the note asked pilots to fuel up accordingly.


Aviation analyst Mohan Ranganathan and former director general of civil aviation Kanu Gohain said it was rare for an airline to place such altitude restrictions.

Publicly known technical snags in the Neos include erroneous warnings to the pilot, longer start-up times, issues with the combustor chamber lining, oil seal failures and so-called oil chip detected warnings.


“Pratt and Whitney has constantly been analysing other teething problems that have emerged during operations,” Mittra said in his note to pilots.


Earlier this month, top Pratt & Whitney executives met DGCA officials to update them on the engine issues.


Former DGCA chief Gohain said more inspections would help.

“Whenever there are repeated engine issues you increase the frequency of inspections so that you can detect the internal distress of the engine earlier before it fails,” he said.

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GoAir to fly snag-hit Airbus A320neo planes at lower altitude

GoAir is the second airline after IndiGo to ask its pilots to fly its Airbus A320neos at the 30,000 feet altitude limit due to problems with the Pratt & Whitney engines



New Delhi: Low-fare airline GoAir has started flying its five Airbus A320neo planes at a lower altitude to limit strain on the aircraft engine, a person aware of the matter said.


India’s largest airline IndiGo has also asked its pilots to fly the A320neo at 30,000 feet against the usual 36,000 feet, Mint first reported on 24 March. The directive followed engine maker Pratt & Whitney’s advice to avoid a possible glitch in the engine lubrication system. IndiGo, run by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd, is among the biggest users of A320neos.


Go Airlines (India) Ltd, which operates the 11-year-old GoAir, has 24 planes, of which five are A320neos. Thirteen more A320neos are expected to join by March 2018.


“All the A320neos have been mandated to fly at the new altitude,” the person cited above said on condition of anonymity.


At higher altitudes, air density is lower and the engine must work harder to develop the same thrust, increasing temperature. Lower altitude could help keep the temperatures down. However, flying lower in denser air consumes more fuel, another person familiar with the matter said, also on condition of anonymity.

“There is a certain increase—about 4-6% in fuel burn. That’s the broad range. There was a recommendation from Pratt & Whitney; naturally, this seems to be the optimum altitude until the fix comes in, which is expected very soon,” this person said.


GoAir has 139 more A320neos on order with Airbus. The airline plans to use them for international operations expected to start this year.


A GoAir spokesperson declined to comment for the story.


A320neos have had a tough time this year. In January, an IndiGo flight had a so-called rejected take-off at Mumbai. In February, a GoAir flight from Delhi had to return to the airport after an engine fire 15 minutes into the flight. In the same month, a GoAir flight had to make an emergency landing and an IndiGo flight had to fly minus passengers to Delhi from Baroda.


GoAir CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer said in an interview in February that Pratt & Whitney “will support us properly with spare engines and other support needs to be there so we can overcome the initial phase and don’t have any flight disruptions” and a full fix could take about 18 months.


Pratt & Whitney hasn’t offered comments on the matter but has said its engines are safe to fly.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation has asked IndiGo and GoAir to increase surveillance of these planes, besides specifying other restrictions on when and where to fly them.

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Com um incremento de 4-6% do consumo de combustível por voarem a 30mil pés, parte da economia prometida do A320neo se perde,, uma ano e meio para corrigir o problema tb achei um prazo longo demais

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