January 8, 2019 / 6:55 PM / 3 months ago

India to issue new safety rules for A320neos - aviation secretary

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India will issue new safety protocols for airlines operating Airbus (AIR.PA) A320neo aircraft fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines, the civil aviation secretary said, after temporary grounding orders affected the planes last year.

FILE PHOTO: An Airbus A320neo aircraft is pictured during a news conference to announce a partnership between Airbus and Bombardier on the C Series aircraft programme, in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, October 17, 2017. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Indian low-cost airlines IndiGo and GoAir were forced to ground A320neo aircraft on several occasions due to issues related to their engines.

IndiGo, GoAir, aircraft manufacturer Airbus and engine maker Pratt & Whitney (UTX.N) met Indian civil aviation ministry officials on Tuesday to discuss the engine issues.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) would issue safety rules for airlines in one week, civil aviation secretary R. N. Choubey told Reuters.

But he said his ministry had no plans to tell IndiGo, India’s biggest carrier by market share, and GoAir to take A320neos jets out of service or stop taking new deliveries.

IndiGo declined to comment when asked about the meeting. GoAir did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

IndiGo, owned by InterGlobe Aviation (INGL.NS), is Airbus’ biggest customer for the A320neo, all of which are fitted with Pratt & Whitney engines. IndiGo and GoAir together have more than 500 such planes on order.

IndiGo said last month it would retrofit its A320neo fleet with a new software upgrade from Pratt & Whitney after one of its planes was forced to make an emergency landing due to smoke in the cabin.

Pratt & Whitney made a presentation at Tuesday’s meeting related to its engines, two sources aware of the meeting said.

Choubey said the ministry and DGCA had identified five main issues with the engines and Pratt & Whitney had taken corrective action on four of them and was working on the last one.

In February, the U.S. aviation regulator said the Pratt & Whitney engines posed a shutdown risk, following similar action by European regulators that month.

Airbus said in July that Pratt & Whitney was catching up on delays that had caused a backlog of A320neos sitting on the ground outside factories without engines and there would be an improvement especially in the second half of 2018.

Reporting by Aditi Shah; Editing by Euan Rocha, Christopher Cushing and Edmund Blair

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