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DGCA grounds two GoFirst aircraft after technical snags

The incidents took place a day after the DGCA flagged rising engineering issues with Indian carriers and asked airlines to plug gaps by July 28.

On Tuesday, Go First's Mumbai-Leh and Srinagar-Delhi flights faced engine snags and both planes were grounded by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. (Representational file photo)

In a protracted episode of Indian airlines facing engineering malfunctions on their aircraft, Wadia Group-owned GoFirst saw incidents on two of its flights Tuesday on Airbus A320neo aircraft, equipped with Pratt & Whitney engines.

These aircraft have been grounded by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), and will only fly after cleared by the regulator. This is in variance from the established practice of an airline’s maintenance unit clearing the airplane to fly after a fault is discovered.

In the first incident, which happened early Tuesday, a Leh-bound flight from Mumbai diverted to Delhi after a fault was found in the right side power plant’s engine interface unit. In the second occurrence, the aircraft operating on the Srinagar-Delhi route turned back to its origin airport after the exhaust gas temperature went over limit.

“We are investigating and in the meanwhile, both these aircraft are being grounded and shall fly only when cleared by DGCA,” a senior regulatory official told The Indian Express.

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A GoFirst spokesperson did not comment on the issue.

The incidents happened just a day after the DGCA flagged rising engineering issues with Indian carriers and issued a missive asking airlines to plug gaps by July 28. In its order, the aviation safety regulator said that airlines are improperly identifying causes of reported defects on aircraft, and are not placing qualified engineers at all airports. This was discovered during spot checks by the DGCA in light of the increasing incidents.

The regulator also pointed to an “increasing trend” of minimum equipment list (MEL) releases of aircraft. An MEL allows the plane to be operated safely even if something is broken on the plane only under specific conditions or for a restricted flight duration before it has to compulsorily undergo maintenance.

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Multiple incidents were reported to have occurred on aircraft operated by Indian carriers over the last few days from engine snags and burning smell in cabin to a bird entering the airplane cockpit. Low-cost airline SpiceJet saw at least eight incidents in less than a month, and the regulator issued a show-cause notice to the airline, saying it had “failed” to establish safe, efficient and reliable air services.

Meanwhile, in another GoFirst incident on Tuesday, an aircraft about to take off from Leh for Delhi had to reject take off after a dog was spotted on the runway.

First published on: 19-07-2022 at 03:20:00 pm
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