Pratt & Whitney’s Indian trouble

By Bjorn Fehrm

March 14, 2018, ©. Leeham Co: India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grounded Airbus A320neos equipped with Pratt & Whitney GTF engines with faulty compressor seals Monday.

Affected are eight A320neos of Indigo airlines and three A320neos of GoAir. The Indian groundings are unusual as they go beyond the directives of EASA and FAA for the problem.

The known GTF problems

The Pratt & Whitney GTF engines for the A320neo have had a troubled start to operations. While the engine’s performance is better than specification, the reliability is plagued with teething problems.

The first operational problem was long engine start times, partly to blame on Airbus method of hanging the engine by their midpoint (the core). All Turbofan engines experience the bending of their rotating parts when being shut down. It’s called rotor bow and is caused by the standing heat gathering at the top of a non-moving rotor. The A320 midpoint mounting augmented the rotor bow of the GTF.

The cure is to vent the engine by cranking it before the start procedure, by it giving the rotor a more even temperature before spinning it up to operational RPMs. Engines hung at the fan case and tail (Bombardier CSeries, Embraer E2 and Mitsubishi MRJ) do not have prolonged engine start times. The fix for the A320neo was changes to the engine and to allow both engines to be ventilated at the same time, by it shortening the total engine start time.

Next problem was engine oil metal detector warnings. The third engine bearing compartment had a seal which didn’t work correctly at high Flight Levels. The thin air caused the air riding seal members to sometimes oscillate and touch. This left metal particles in the engine oil, which caused warnings pointing to a potential engine problem. The fix was a change to a more classical carbon seal.

The third problem was combustion chamber linings which had unforeseen hot spots, reducing the linings operational life. The fix were liners with modified cooling.

These problems were addressed and the fixes were built into new engines when a more serious problem occurred over the last six weeks.

The serious problem

The above problems are all of a non-serious character. They cause operational problems for the airlines, but they have not caused a flight hazard. Engines are worn prematurely and the bearing seal problem gives warnings (metal chip detection in the oil) which must be treated as if it was a serious problem.

Over the last month, a more serious problem has occured. And it was unexpected. A high-pressure compressor seal of the standard knife-edge type suddenly cracks, pieces of the seal breaks loose and enters the compressor, combustor and turbines. The seal is a modified version of a previous knife-edge seal in the area.

Knife-edge seals have been used in gas turbine engines since the 1940s. It’s a standard method to seal a higher-pressure compressor/turbine stage from a lower pressure stage, Figure 1.

Figure 1. Turbine stage with rotating knife seals. These rotate close to static surfaces, by it stopping air from leaking past.

Why is the improved seal (the first version showed to high wear on its seal surfaces) cracking within months of starting its life? We don’t know, but premature metal fatigue could be a root cause. How can a seal fatigue in such a short time? If it enters a self-induced oscillation for some reason.

Seals are the barriers between high-pressure areas and the leaking air over the seal can induce an oscillation and such oscillations can quickly cause metal fatigue in the seal. This is pure speculation, but it has happened before in other engines.

The real problem is, it wasn’t found in testing before production. We will know why when Pratt & Whitney and EASA/FAA tell us what happened. Seal parts that come loose means the engine downstream of the seal gets damaged and loses thrust. The pilot action when this happens is to put the engine to idle and interrupt the flight.

The short-term fix is straightforward. Re-introduce the original seal; it doesn’t crack and cause a loss of thrust. This is done for engines produced from now. For affected engines, the faulty seals will be changed. The operation should be finished by June.

Then over time, develop a longer lasting seal which is thoroughly tested before being released for production. 

Affected engines and DGCA action

Affected engines are serial number 540 and later. Pratt & Whitney has produces 100 engines with the updated seal. EASA and FAA have issued an Airworthiness directive that no A320neo shall fly with two affected engines. It’s OK to fly when one late series engine is mixed with one which doesn’t have the troublesome seal. Extended operation over water is not allowed with A320neos with affected engines.

The decision of India’s DGCA to ground all A320neo with an affected engine is strange. Flights with mixed engines are not allowed. Normally the operation country authorities follow the authorities in the countries of the airframe and engine origin. Not in this case. Perhaps the close timespan between incidents in India (three since 29th of January and the last Monday this week) can explain the grounding.


90 Comments on “Pratt & Whitney’s Indian trouble

  1. In my opinion, there are reasons for P&W to ask: ‘Can we improve our procedures, methods and practices in testing, so that we can find wear and fatigue issues on the test stand as opposed to having our customers discovering them operationally?’

  2. I guess ‘if’ something did happen they didn’t want it on their shoulders.

    What is very odd of late is the number of issues with engine components, coatings etc. that seem to be of the more standard, less-novel/new type, and that with all the testing, tear-down, and certification during development, they were never noticed until being in service. That is, did AB not notice rotar-bow during testing, and devise a work-around prior to EIS [instead of after with much publicity], was their no engine oil warning during flight testing due to the #3 seal etc.

    With the # of issue from all the engine manufacturers you get the feeling they’re not being honest and forthcoming, or are we jut more media-informed these days.

    Anywho… P&W really need to get to work. They seem [and have seemed] to have a very casual ‘oh dear – we’ll get around to it’ attitude to the problems.

    • I don’t buy casual.

      I remember when GE used a different coating system on the GenX from the hand built versions when they individualize the process.

      Turbines shed out the back, very fortunately on takeoff and they stopped.

      Many thousands of hours are spent testing engines by all mfgs, then they change something without a test or minimal testing.

      Anything new or differently done should undergo a mandatory testing period.

      • Agree, some of GE’s GeN-1 and P&W’s problems have come from post testing changes. Testing requirements need to be put on changes by certification authorities, but not so tight as to stop progress.

  3. Knife edge seals can be tricky, if the knife edges are too slender they can vibrate from multiple sources including acoustics. If they are too short the friction heat can travel down to the root of the k/e seal and thermally expand it to make the knife edge dive into its matching honeycomb or Metco coating.
    PWA has used plasma coating that is hard on the k/e tips so when they start to touch the coating or honeycomb they easily goove a track, but the hard plasma can introduce defects into the parent k/e seal tip material. The key is to get the gap right by the 0.01’s of mm to function well.
    Fighter Engines have even more k/e seal challanges with Aircraft pulling g’s and the rotor want to stay put by gyro forces while the housings move with the airframe.
    The PW1100G mouting complicates the thermal distortions of the housings like it did on similar mounted CF6-50’s and earlier CF6-6 with its long HPC’s.

    This issue with Engine mounting will be an issue on the 797, will its pylon allow the fairly long distance between fwd and aft mount required for geared fan Engines mounted at the Intermediate case and Turbine Rear Frame (Turbine Exhaust Case) or will it be shorter forcing a Mid turbine frame mounting if you go for a geared fan? My bet is they will go for a short pylon hence having RR drop the Ultrafan and offer the Advance and a CFMI 50k 2 spool non geared Engine. We will see.

    • The final para is interesting re long or short pylon philosophy. Discuss!

      • The aircraft manufacturer designs the pylon and the engine manufacturers has to obey where the mounts are located.
        If their engine has a long design thanks to the fan gear taking space they have to move the aft mount forward to the hot frame between the turbines. Like PWA on the A320neo, then they have a problem of having the massive mount thermally distort the casing and at that location also drive the distortion of the HPT, Combustor, HPC, LPT casings that will cause excessive rubbing and SFC loss over time or they have to start with big blade clearances causing a SFC penalty.
        GE seems to have changed the name of the CF6-50 Turbine Mid Frame with aft mount to the MTU made GE90 Turbine Center Frame not to awake bad memories of the CF6-50’s TMF even though the GE90 have the aft mount on the Turbine Rear Frame.
        If Boeing is quick to decide that the mounts should fit a normal 2-spool GE engine the others have to use the same mount locations making it harder to squeeze in a fan gear system unless it can be fully in front of the Intermediate case/Fan Frame.

        • All of which reminds one of Boeing’s 787 engine-interchangability aspiration that went rather quiet after some initial chatter…

          • I think its there, just not used much though a lot may start replacing the RRs with GE!

            As the P&W GTF was the entry engine for the A320NEO, its fan mount should have prevailed.

            Possible Airbus went with the CFM (V2500 is mounted how?)

          • Its now an ‘engine and its pylon’ change.
            As long as you dont use a forklift to remove both at the same time, as AA used to do with its DC10s which led to unfortunate results at Chicago

          • Thanks, of cause can PWA make the engine work great like GE did with the CF6-50 for its time but most likely will PWA take a penalty in SFC due to increased blade and seal tip clearances. However it can be compensated with a slightly bigger fan diameter and a modified nacelle i.d. once they get OK for the 35k engine.
            I think Airbus defined the same engine mounting locations for the A320neo as for the A320 and initially the same fan diameter, then PWA got OK to put a bigger fan on theirs and won some customers (including LH) before CFMI got to know about it and did the same.

  4. What kind of financial impact do these problems have on P&W? Do they have to pay some compensation for grounded aircraft?

    • The same question should be directed at AB. Clearly they made a gross mistake with mounting of the engine and one should also question how deeply they tested it . Authorities should also ask themselves whether the licensing procedure is too lax . I have a feeling they place too much confidence and trust on the manufacturers .

      • The question is not how they tested it, its not a flight safety issue and they know about it regardless.

        Its why they chose that mounting system when its a known issue and also obviously 4 other mfgs know how to avoid it.

        • “its not a flight safety issue ” – Maybe. But how come they are releasing a new product which have worse behavior than the older one it replaces. They should have known their customers won’t accept degradation of their service . I replaced yesterday my iPhone 6 with 8. The 8 is better on all respects .

          • David: Somehow it seems to have been missed as it was tested on the A320 extensive. More a Airbus goof up than P&W.

            Once the engines are on Airbus, the part is Airbus not P&W.

            Worse performance in one small miner and easily adjusted area though.

            Fuel use is (by aircraft terms) much better than promised.

        • Well, the issue with rotor bow and rubbing came up on one of the last A320neo testflights with a diversion to Egypt? The latest seal fracture is another case of rubbing that can cause an IFSD.
          One can wonder if Airbus only requires an EASA/FAA certified engine and do not have their own durability requirement:
          Like restart and T-O to top of climb at different time intervals,
          Desest sand storm starts and T-O, to check for T1 blade and vanes cooling holes plugging.
          Sea side salty enviroment corrosion testing of turbines by high speed flying at low altitudes suckin in salty air and measure the effect on turbine blades outside and inside especially stage 2.

          • Of course Airbus “only requires” authority certified engines.

            Adding another layer onto that would cost Airbus a fortune (or another one)

            Its the regulatory agencies that are missing the boat and where the action should be.

  5. Could the PW1100G going the same route as for the T1000 to the TEN?. Hope they can sort it out.

    • It does not seem to that point.

      I think they could have corrected the 1000 mechanical issues.

      It looks like the fuel burn issues were so bad they did a new engine.

      P&W is meeting the burns and then some.

    • PWA has been into troubles with early Engines many times before and should be able to work out a package of modifications that do wonders, like the ’94 package for the PW2000, The 94″ PW4000 modifications packages that stopped the compressor surges and increased relibility alot. The V2500-A1 was greatly improved when the V2500-A5 came out, The F-100 went from really poor to pretty good after the USAF with GE and the “Great Engine War” improved it alot. So historically this is a pretty “Normal P&W entry into service experience”.

      • Looks like the problems are a combination of factors. Hasn’t the time come for AB to make a new wing for the 320/1’s a high priority as part of the long term solution?

        • How many years will a new wing for the A320 take to design, build, and certify?

          What are they supposed to do in the meantime with the thousands of A320 neo’s on order?

          • Wish I knew, 3 years? But time to put it into production?

            As said, a long term view.

          • If they launch the A322 I think it will come with a new wing with matching wingbox and pylon that also can be used for the A321neo at a block # switch over. But the A320 will keep its present neo wing.
            Most likely it is alsready designed but need another iteration and maybe a €0.75bn total cost for just the wing, the A322 with total cost of around $5bn.

          • Anton, Claes, & Rick – whatever we think we understand about “the” A322, which surely remains essentially speculative, any “new” wing will surely have to have a great deal of commonality with the required characteristics for the next Airbus single-aisle design (an A320 replacement if you will). Or are we now supposing that Airbus will up-gage to compete more obviously against the Boeing 797/NMA alongside a new smaller ship that might be developed from the Bombardier CS300 (“CS500”?)? If the latter, Airbus will want/need to keep investment as low as possible, which I suspect rules out any compromise step-stone: would not either/both new smaller CS500 and larger “me, too, NMA” designs require optimised wings? If an “A322” is to compete against the largest 737 Max, should that not – like the Neo series – be seen as a stop-gap before a New Single Aisle and with investment appropriately limited?

  6. Anyone know why P&W designs since at least the 1960s always seem (as far as I can tell) to be lacking reliability? I assume arrogance from market dominance early on, but decades later?

    On the civil side, the JT9 had a reputation, PW2000 seemed to be deemed less reliably than the RR competitor, while the PW4000 had reliability issues for its first few years.

    On the military side, the F135 keeps getting stick over reliability, the F100 reliability was so poor that a GE competitor was brought in, and the TF30 reliability was so poor it was replaced with a GE.

    • PWA was organized around Andy Wilgoos and Geaorge Mead making wonders, when they retired the organisation and way of working were not adjusted as required.

    • @Woody:
      “Anyone know why P&W designs since at least the 1960s always seem (as far as I can tell) to be lacking reliability?”
      Don’t know but P&W often seems to be the 1st one to put/certify an engine design on a jetliner that was radically diff fm older engine designs.
      Well, these are the 1st gen jetliners and P&W was the 1st(after DH Comet of course) to put turbojet there.
      747=P&W was the 1st to supply a truly high by-pass turbofans for any widebody type.
      CSeries=P&W was the 1st to supply geared turbofans for any airliner.

      They did not enjoyed 2nd mover advantages(e.g. learnt costly lessons almost free of charge fm the 1st mover) in all cases listed above.

      “the JT9 had a reputation”
      Possibly a legacy fm the high by-pass pioneer status of the JT9 family.

      “PW2000 seemed to be deemed less reliably than the RR competitor”
      The jury is still out on this 1….after 3+ decades. At least it’s production kinda lasted longer “than the RR competitor” on 757….thx to the C17 program which, a bit ironically, was also bought by the British gov’t whom used to technically own RR for a while decades ago.

      “…the PW4000 had reliability issues for its first few years.”
      As I recall, so as the T700(initial 333) and the GE90(initial 772) in a similar thrust class+tech generation(basically, fan size/by-pass ratio becoming much larger) which came shortly after PW4000 but all started development and certified roughly between mid-80s to mid-90s.

      • An awful lot of engines have issues.

        GE has had their, RR is having a lot.

        • Hope they can sort it out, always had a soft spot for PW from the days of those nice smoky 737-200’s. When you saw those eagles on the wings and those beautiful thrust revers that you can see is working made flying a joy.

          • My love of P&W goes back to the prop era.

            30s on, P&W was a Mainstay.

      • The difference here is that the problems are on the non-revolutionary side, so to speak. A bit baffling really. Maybe the cost of getting the geared part right left them with little choice but to cut corners on the conventional part and to assume things were okay? All a bit strange, anyway.

        • I think it needs to be understood this is not corner cutting, its standard allowed practice.

          GE did the same thing in moving to industrialization on the GenX and was very fortunate the affect was almost immediate and they caught it on a non commercial flight.

          In a very competitive landscape the mfgs will do what is allowed by the AHJ (authorities having jurisdiction ) believing its ok.

          P&W did not do this knowing it would be an issue.

          However, I do believe that the AHJ should insiste on tesing strand for.

          1. Standard fully industrialized build engine, not the hand built one.

          2. Any changes be tested for 1000 hours on the wing of the aircraft its going to serve on (or the test mount on a test aircraft be identical to the target aircraft as well as the strains, forces and thrust being used as would be on the standard aircraft)

  7. Why do al these problems seem to be happening to the A320 and not the CSeries (apart from early engine seal problem) – is the root cause to most/all the issues engine mount and/or increased thrust or is it just that there are more A320’s in service so problems get noticed sooner on that frame?

    • @Bruce Levitt:
      “Why do al these problems seem to be happening to the A320 and not the CSeries”
      I think this has been explained to death across various industry media and forums.

      But half-jokingly and in a nutshell, I would expect X tends to get superior design outcomes relative to Y:
      X=A clean sheet wing structural design developed largely in parallel with a clean sheet engine design as a single integrated engineering package fm day1.


      Y=Try to merry/adopt a clean sheet engine design with an existing wing structural design created 3 decades ago(and thus costly to heavily revise its design throughout the supply chain) when such engine architecture probably existed only in a P&W engineer’s wet dream….

          • FLX:” Luck of the draw and poor mounting decision by Airbus.

            Nothing to do with clean sheet.

            737 is modified more than A320 and no reported problems there.

    • Different engine and competitor but apparently the nacelle design Comac chose for the C919 was more advanced than the one Airbus chose for the CFM neo. So (apologies in advance for all the maybes and speculation) maybe Airbus did something similar with the P&W neo and maybe they minimised development costs/changes too much and maybe this has fed through into today’s problems.

  8. I think there are only like 20 C-series in service. It’s not real re-assuring to know a twin engine plane might be ok only because “we think the left engine won’t shut down, and should be good, as long as we’re not over water or too far from a diversion airport.”

    Many programs jumped onto the GTF based on specifications (MRJ/CS/A320/E2/SSJ) but again this was very risky and today’s impacts on fleets/production is a logical consequence/outcome to the risks involved for all parties.

    More directly, I think the truth is that the A320NEO launched this sequence, but it’s a rushed project, period, without any maturity from the de facto primary engine maker. It’s exciting for many to boast about NB market share but in truth this was attained (as far as orders are concerned) via dramatic risk taking in product launch/readiness. I’m also pretty amazed (hat’s off) that CFM has pulled off the LEAP production/service ramp up as well as they have.

    • “It’s exciting for many to boast about NB market share but in truth this was attained (as far as orders are concerned) via dramatic risk taking in product launch/readiness.”

      – I’m sure you have a WB example for this too.

      But we are well past that now with things more or less under control. Likewise, I don’t expect any less from Airbus re: the A320neo.

    • This chart was updated today:

      It lists 27 CSeries 100s and CSeries 300s in total delivered to three customers if I’m reading it correctly. I’d presume all are in revenue service except maybe the last one, which was the 3rd one just taken by KA. Note: Two Delta planes are listed on Final Assembly.

  9. Airworthiness Directives tend to address one issue at a time. If an engine type has multiple issues, each of them potentially causing an in-flight shut-down, then I can see why a regulatory authority might start to get itchy feet about it and exceed the precautionary measures mandated by an AD for a single issue.
    In essence, it doesn’t matter that one engine is vulnerable to knife edge seal problems if the second isn’t, if the second engine has other issues that might make that engine shut down. De-pairing them might not, in the opinion of a national airworthiness authority, provide the necessary level of protection.
    It may well be that the Indian regulatory authority is looking at the bigger picture rather than each individual issue independently. And if so, rock-on Indian regulatory authority because that means they are doing their job.

  10. First, how did the FAA and EASA ever certify this engine? As noted above, these problems didn’t show themselves during certification testing? Then there’s a certification testing protocol set of flaws. Is there an issue with manufacturer FAA authorized employee certification? How about incorporating at least 20 engine on wing test runs from Tokyo to Guam and back going forward? Lastly, yes to no ETOPS! Brings up one of the funniest aviation acronyms I’ve ever heard: “Engines Turning, Or People Swimming.”

    • GenX and the Trent 1000 got certified and each has had issues.

    • The EASA/FAA certification of an Engine is in combination with its maintenance program and manuals. Hence poor life for detectable flaws like burner liners, turbine blades and vanes that you can borescope inspect on-wing is not really a certification issue just inspect and replace the worn Engine with a spare and replace/repair all the worn very expensive turbine material and repair the burner liner.
      Hidden problems that can all of a sudden cause loss of thrust get to be an airworthiness issue, like a fractured rotating seal.
      So Airbus and its customers have different focus than the certification authorities that just look at safe to fly issues while customers also want reliable engines and few spare Engines.

  11. I speculate that the Indian order to ground all the planes is highly political. It just happened to take place when a new head of enforcement took office. The government order has enabled Indian airlines to get substantially more penalties from PW & Airbus.

    Indian airlines have more operational problems than western airlines. Witness that LH isn’t in the news about its 320NEOs. Maybe it is the high humidity and particulate conditions. Maybe the government is afraid that Indian airlines and pilots are not so capable as western ones to fly with a single engine. Maybe the government is right.

    • LH does not operate any of the affected engines (serial no 540 and above). As for the rest of your comment, you’re just pain uninformed

  12. Interesting is that LH ordered 320’s with PW’s and 321’s with CFM?

    (If what I have read is correct).

    • Sounds like Lufthansa Technik wanted it that way to be able to get licenses to do MRO on both engine types for all A320neo customers?
      In hindsight doing the opposite would maybe have been smarter. CFMI on the A320neo and IAE/PWA on the A321neo as they have today on the earlier A320 family models.

  13. Off Topic: Saw a Korean CS300 come through Anchorage.

    While its good looking in the pictures, in real world its even better.

    Shades of the DC-8. Stretch CS500 would be even cooler.

    Well done BBD. Its beautiful. Korean Airlines colors are some if not the best as well.

    • Thanks for sharing. (Not looking for trouble), but how will an CS500 look in Alaskan colors, and you will have 18.5″ wide seats.

      BalticAir’s destinations must be a good test ground for Alaskan type of weather conditions.

      • Anton: No trouble at all. I would love to see a CS anything in AK Colors.

        I always admired what BBD and what they came out with and up with not only looks good but is executed extremely well functionality wise (not to mention a better mounting system that Airbus!)

        I admire good work.

  14. Hi Bjorn, could the higher thrust variants for the 321’s potentially have more problems (heat)?

    Secondly (theoretically), will a smaller fan with lower bypass ratio reduce problems related to oscillation?

  15. As a mechanical type, I am all for what India did.

    Flying an aircraft is based on having the required equipment working right with no cause to think critical equipment is going to fail.

    What we have here is an iffy engine and a supposed good one.

    From my perspective, that like taking off not knowing if not only will the iffy engine fail, but what happens if the good engine also fails?.

    We have the infamous Gimbli Glider or Sully going into the Hudson (at best and high chance far worse)

    I think its beyond irresponsible for the authorities to play this game with an iffy engine and what they think is a good one.

    Good engines fail all the time.

    • Agreed, particularly if a non-Indian PW neo goes “in the drink”! The FAA and EASA will not be able to wipe all the egg off their faces!

      • Worst case is actually on land at least as far as a wreck goes.

        Many successful ocean ditchings on record.

        Land, all sorts of nasty things in the way.

        • Actually I would disagree on that. Water is as hard as concrete when you hit it at speed and on land you won’t drown like that latest helicopter crash in NY. Also it’s much, much easier for first responders to reach the wreckage and injured survivors within the critical “golden hour” that is so vital.
          Of course if I had a choice if I’m going to be in a one to millions chance occurrence I would rather it be wining the lottery!
          Also to note… no commercial fatalities in 2017!

          • Geo: Disagree all you want, I know of at least 6 succesull disthicngs.

            It has nothing to do with the nature of water, it all has to do with what is sticking up.

            Water is essentially flat, if not you can land at 90 degree to the swell or seas. P3 set down in the N. Pacific in a storm successfully (all but one crewman got out (8) , one died as he did not get off the wing in time to get on the raft)

            On land you have rocks, trees, houses, ditches, mountains, hills of all sorts and types, railroads, roads, overpasses, bridges etc.

            As those slash and rip through the fuselage it tears it apart.

            Gear down or gear up?

            If you are lucky, Corn Field in Kansas. If not?

  16. The V2500 had rotor bow issues when it first started out. It was solved, initially, by having a dry-motor period prior to ignition. Pratt & Whitney should have known all about it.

    Rolls-Royce have a register of technical issues that is supposed to be reviewed when the engine/component requirements documents are being written, among the first steps in the design process. It doesn’t make RR engines immune to problems but it’s a great idea to catch what issues one can right at the beginning. I wonder if Pratt & Whitney have the same sort of procedure

    • Airbus should have that as well and if they are driving the mounting system?

  17. There’s definite signs of crisis management and panic. Time to sit down, calm down, review, rectify?

  18. What is really interesting in all this is the concentration of issues in India – recollect similar concentrations taking place over the Air India 787’s. There are two factors some consider to be in play – one is the climate, both in terms humidity and dust; the other the issue of quality of routine maintenance.

    • PWA is not very lucky in India for the last few years. The last issue is handled strange in India as the FAA/EASA told PWA to remove the defect seal design and PWA went back to the earlier certified design and EASA/FAA just prohibit 2 of same suspect lot to be on the same aircraft.
      Then India grounds their affected aircraft registrations and do not lift the grounding even though spare engines of the “legal” configurations are thru India customs and available. My respect for the effected Indian airliners having to navigate thru all this without losing it..

    • Interestingly, Lufthansa Technik apparently has an India operation. Wonder what it does besides maybe line service for LH and affiliates?

  19. United Tech has shipped thousands of aerospace jobs to India. This should give them some insight to navigate any bureaucracy that could stand in its way.

  20. I believe the Indian DGCA made the right decision for *Indian* pilots. The average Indian pilot has far fewer flight hours than a Western pilot, and significantly less time in the simulator to train for the adverse flight events. Many Western pilots also come from a military flying background, which most Indian pilots will not have. There is a reason that Indians passengers on flights all clap their hands every time their pilot makes a successful landing.

    While most pilots can handle routine flights without issue, pilots with top experience really shine relative to their peers when the off-nominal things begin to occur. Even a single engine out is a situation that may confuse a mildly experienced pilot, and DGCA is just being prudent and prioritizing safety over money.

    See a few of these articles to see how some of the more odd events in recent India flights

    India’s Jet Airways fires pilots for ‘cockpit fight’ – BBC News –

    Jet grounds two senior pilots for fighting in cockpit of London-Mumbai flight

    • I don’t buy that.

      NZ had pilots fighting and one got locked out of the cockpit, other cases around the world.

      We had 4 or 5 cases of aircraft landing at the wrong airports a while back (US) – AF447 pilots crashed their perfectly fine A330.

      Asiaina pilot stalled a 777 at SFO

      • Do you know of any Western countries with the issues with faked pilot licenses? You listed a series of incidents from many different countries. Can you name a *single* Western country with a similar number of incidents in that time period?

        As for Asiana, that was a pilot trainee with only 45 hours in a 777 and was landing in an unfamiliar airport (almost a decade since they landed the previous time) without the benefit of automated landing aids thereby requiring a more manual landing. This kind of makes my point that you don’t want less experienced pilots encountering unfamiliar situations if you can avoid it.

      • From the Department of Nitpicking,

        The pilots of Asiana Flight 214 did not stall their 777-200ER at SFO, they flew it into a seawall (actually a baywall – more nitpicking) short of the runway after they got way too low and slow on a wildly unstabilized approach, and waited way too long to take corrective action. They attempted to go-around prior to impact, but they were way too late. They were apparently dependent on the airplane’s automation to conduct stabilized approaches and were in over their head trying to fly a smooth stabilized approach by the method of looking out the window, and moving the controls (stick, rudder and throttle – not autopilot or autothrottle) as necessary with their hands to keep their aircraft smoothly following the desired course, on a clear day when the airports instrument landing equipment was not operating. Below is an excerpt from, and link to, the NTSB report on this accident.

        “On July 6, 2013, about 1128 Pacific daylight time, a Boeing 777-200ER, Korean registration HL7742, operating as Asiana Airlines flight 214, was on approach to runway 28L when it struck a seawall at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), San Francisco, California.”

        “However, the thrust levers were still at idle, and the descent rate was about 1,200 ft per minute, well above the descent rate of about 700 fpm needed to maintain the desired glidepath; these were two indications that the approach was not stabilized. Based on these two indications, the flight crew should have determined that the approach was unstabilized and initiated a go-around, but they did not do so. As the approach continued, it became increasingly unstabilized as the airplane descended below the desired glidepath; the PAPI displayed three and then four red lights, indicating the continuing descent below the glidepath. The decreasing trend in airspeed continued, and about 200 ft, the flight crew became aware of the low airspeed and low path conditions but did not initiate a go-around until the airplane was below 100 ft, at which point the airplane did not have the performance capability to accomplish a go-around. The flight crew’s insufficient monitoring of airspeed indications during the approach resulted from expectancy, increased workload, fatigue, and automation reliance.

        When the main landing gear and the aft fuselage struck the seawall, the tail of the airplane broke off at the aft pressure bulkhead. The airplane slid along the runway, lifted partially into the air, spun about 330°, and impacted the ground a final time. The impact forces, which exceeded certification limits, resulted in the inflation of two slide/rafts within the cabin, injuring and temporarily trapping two flight attendants. Six occupants were ejected from the airplane during the impact sequence: two of the three fatally injured passengers and four of the seriously injured flight attendants.”

        • More from the NTSB accident report (see page 90).

          “As stated earlier, the pilots did not initiate a go-around until reaching an altitude of 90 ft, which was about 7 seconds before the impact. This delay prevented a successful go-around because the airplane was not able to develop the power necessary to climb out in the time available before impact. As shown during testing, a go-around that was initiated 11 seconds before the impact (at an altitude of 124 ft) likely would not have resulted in the ground impact. In fact, the go-around should have been initiated well before that point: when the airplane reached 500 ft and the approach was unstabilized. The previous section discussed the role of insufficient monitoring in the flight crewmembers’ failure to execute a go-around between 500 and 200 ft. This section will discuss the possible reasons for their delay in executing the go-around below 200 ft.”

          From page 85.

          “About 4 seconds after the quadruple chime sounded and 7 seconds before impact, when the airplane was at an altitude of 90 ft and a speed of 110 knots, the PM said, “speed,” and added go-around thrust. Shortly thereafter, the control column reached the full aft position, and the stall warning stick shaker activated. Pitch attitude increased to 12 degrees, and, passing 30 feet, the PM called out “go-around.” Seconds later, the airplane struck the seawall.”

          Although the stall warning system activated, the aircraft did not actually stall.

          • I wonder how well the pilots (or computer operators?) of Asiana Flight 214 would have done with the situation in the video at the link below? Note that there is no instrument landing system, no autopilot, no computer displays on the instrument panel, and no autothrottle. Although there is a non-auto throttle, it is not of any use after the one and only engine is shut down.

            Question for home study: how does the pilot divide his time between looking out the window towards the field where he is attempting to land and staring at the instruments on the control panel? How does he know whether he is too low, too high, too slow, or too fast without looking at the altimeter or airspeed indicator very much? (Hint: My car has a speedometer and GPS, but I don’t ever look at them when I am pulling into a parking space, slowing to stop at a red light, or making an emergency stop because traffic has slowed suddenly ahead of me).


    • I never seen this pax clapping in my 100s of flights in India . Your judgement is too wrong about India Aviation and you should experience the standards kept in India Aviation . We are now flying the brand new aircraft than the 30 year air frames flown in western airlines.Not a single air accident related causality in past eight years.

  21. Lufthansa grounded all A320neo lately due to a wire rubbing issue on the P&W engines.

    Maybe the same issue in India.

    • LH may have temporarily grounded them, but I am willing to bet it was just to correct and back in service.

  22. The short-term fix is straightforward. Re-introduce the original seal…

    Oh great, the original seal failed within a matter of months. We’re back to where we were a year ago.

    • I think perhaps Bjorn means the pre-modified seal… Just a thought.

    • Meanwhile – far away across the Indian and Pacific Oceans in Hawaii ….

      “Hawaiian Airlines trimmed its summer flying schedule because of engine trouble that has dogged one of Airbus SE’s most popular jets.

      The carrier removed an extra summer flight between San Francisco and Honolulu and a seasonal flight between Oakland, California, and Kona, Hawaii, citing later-than-expected deliveries of Airbus A321neo planes. The delays are due to fixes on the Pratt & Whitney engines powering the single-aisle jetliners, Alex Da Silva, a spokesman for Hawaiian, said Friday.”

      The above quote is from a 2-23-18 Bloomberg article at the link below.

  23. See Boeing making more noises about the 737-7 since its maiden flight.

    Was wondering how an 320″Performance” model will do with the 321’s 32Klb (CFM) engines (de-rated to 30Klb ?), one aux tank, higher MTOW, etc.

    Longer range, shorter strips, hot and high, etc.

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