Top airline adopts derated take-offs amid ongoing A320neo engine issues

IndiGo pilots told to reduce take-off thrust after it suffers 13 engine shutdowns in 2019 during ascent
Indigo, A320neo, Airbus A320neo, Pratt & Whitney

One of India’s top airlines has instructed its pilots to reduce take-off thrust on its new Airbus A320neo jets to save turbines from damage.

13 of IndiGo’s A320neos experienced engine shutdowns during ascents this year and regulators believe turbines may be failing because pilots are pushing the engines to their max during take-off.

Pilots were told last month to use no more than 93% thrust – a practice known as derated take-off – on the Pratt & Whitney engines until they reach 25,000 feet, according to media reports.

IndiGo’s pilots must now avoid applying full thrust on A320neos before 31,000 feet and 33,000 feet for A321neos. The new practice is designed to reduce wear and tear on engines.

Pratt & Whitney said there is no evidence of a connection between climbing procedure and engine incidents, according to an IndiGo spokesperson speaking to The Economic Times.

The spokesperson from the budget airline also told the newspaper that the decision to change pilots’ take-off practice was made to “minimise exposure of engines”.

They added that the change in take-off practice had made “hardly any difference” to the airline’s operations and that the impact on fuel burn has been “marginal”.

People familiar with the matter have said that smaller rival carriers like Go Airlines usually use less take-off thrust and have not faced the same kind of engine issues as IndiGo.

Airbus would not comment on customers’ operations while Indian regulators DGCA declined to comment on internal issues for IndiGo.

IndiGo has the world’s largest fleet of A320neos with 730 aircraft on order. It currently operates a fleet of nearly 100 A320neos and almost 130 A320ceos. It recently placed an order for 300 A320neos, comprised of A320s, A321s and A321XLR aircraft.

In June, IndiGo struck a $20 billion engine deal with CFM International for new turbines for its A20neos but deliveries are yet to start.

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