In a protracted episode of Indian airlines facing engineering failures on their planes, Wadia Group-owned GoFirst saw accidents on two of its flights on Tuesday aboard an Airbus A320neo, fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines.
These aircraft have been grounded by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), and will only fly after approval by the regulator. This is contrary to the practice in an airline maintenance unit to rid an aircraft of flight after a fault is discovered.
In the first accident, which occurred early Tuesday, a Leh-bound flight diverted from Mumbai to Delhi after a fault was discovered in the engine interface unit at the right power plant. In the second incident, the aircraft operating on the Srinagar-Delhi route returned to its home airport after the exhaust gas temperature exceeded the permissible limit.
“We are investigating and at the same time, these two planes are grounded and will only fly after the approval of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation,” a senior regulatory official said. Indian Express.
A GoFirst spokesperson has not commented on the issue.
The accidents occurred just a day after the Directorate General of Civil Aviation reported growing engineering problems with Indian airlines and issued a letter asking airlines to fill in the loopholes by July 28. In the order, the aviation safety regulator said airlines incorrectly identify the causes of reported defects in aircraft, and not all airports are hiring qualified engineers. This was discovered during surprise inspections by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in light of the increasing accidents.
The regulator also noted an “increasing trend” of minimum equipment list (MEL) releases for aircraft. MEL allows the aircraft to operate safely even if something on board is broken only under specified conditions or for a limited flight period before it undergoes compulsory maintenance.
Several accidents have been reported on planes operated by Indian airlines over the past few days, from engine blockages and a burning smell in the cabin to a bird entering the cockpit. Low-cost airline SpiceJet experienced at least eight accidents in less than a month, and the regulator issued an occasional notice to the airline, saying it had “failed” to establish safe, efficient and reliable air services.
Meanwhile, in another incident by GoFirst on Tuesday, a plane about to take off from Leh bound for Delhi was forced to refuse to take off after a dog was spotted on the runway.