NEW DELHI: IndiGo could soon be allowed to operate its Airbus A320/321 Neos with Pratt & Whitney’s (PW) modified engines on sectors where a diversion airport is more than 60 minutes away on any point of the flight routing.
The airline had this October sought Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) nod to extend the extended diversion time operations (EDTO) for its PW-powered Neos from the earlier 60 minutes to 90 minutes now. The regulator last week asked IndiGo to conduct a validation flight and share the result of the same, after which it could increase the diversion time for this aircraft if satisfied in terms of safety parameters.
The extended EDTO is mainly applicable for overseas flights, like some sectors from Kerala to the Gulf, where at some point of the journey the aircraft is more than 60 minutes away from the nearest airport where it may have to divert to for any technical reason. In event of an engine shutdown or failure, twin engine jets can safely land on one engine at a nearest airport. The maximum allowed time within which that can be done is set by EDTO requirements.
Given the constant snags in PW’s earlier version engines for the A320/21 Neos in past few years, DGCA had kept the EDTO requirement for this combo at 60 minutes. Two Indian airlines — IndiGo and GoAir — use PW-powered Neos and due to the lower diversion time allowed, they could not operate the fuel efficient A320/21 Neos on certain routes and were forced to deploy the older version of the A320 (or Ceos).
The DGCA had given a strict time frame for changing all the older snag-prone version of engines for IndiGo and GoAir Neos with a modified version of this engine that PW claims has addressed the issues which were causing snags. Once IndiGo changed all the older version of PW engines, it sought DGCA approval for higher EDTO on October 10, 2020.
On November 26, 2020, the DGCA gave the same to IndiGo — the world’s largest operator of A320 Neo (new engine option) family of aircraft. Tiltled “EDTO approval for A320/A321 aircraft fitted with PW1100G engines”, the regulatory order says: “The submitted request has been examined… EDTO validation flight for 90 minutes is granted provided that IndiGo is to ensure that at least one flight crew member has previous experience of EDTO Flight on A320/A321… submit the report on satisfactory completion of EDTO validation.” A DGCA technical team will be on the validation flight.
IndiGo has bet heavily on the promise of high fuel efficiency of PW-powered A320/21 Neos. Once it gets the nod for higher EDTO clearance, it will be able to deploy these planes on medium haul overseas routes and will phase out the older A320/21 Ceos.