Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today asked the Directorate General of Civil Aviation not to “blindly” follow international guidelines on air safety but to use its own “independent mind” to ensure the passengers’ safety. A bench of Justices Naresh Patil and GS Kulkarni made the remarks while hearing a plea for appropriate directions to Indian civil aviation authorities over recent failures of ‘Pratt & Whitney engines,’ that power A320neo planes.
While adjudicating the plea by city resident Harish Agarwal, the bench also asked the DGCA to take appropriate steps to ensure that the modified engines in the affected aircraft of Go Air and Indigo Airlines meet requisite safety standards.
The directions came after Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the Union government, told the bench that it was satisfied with all efforts made by the DGCA on the issue. Singh made the submission to the court in an affidavit stating that the DGCA had ordered grounding of all such aircraft that had one or more affected P&W engines.
“We have checked all the remedial steps taken by the DGCA and are fully satisfied. The DGCA imposes a far more stringent criteria for certification of airworthiness of engines powering the aircraft,” Singh said. “Though the European Air Safety Authority (EASA) permits an aircraft with one affected engine, but another one safe, to continue operating, the DGCA has grounded even those aircraft which had just one affected engine and the other was working fine,” Singh said.
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The bench, however, asked if the Union government was content with just grounding the aircraft. “Are you ensuring that all A320neo planes are using safe engines? What about checking the airworthiness of the new engines that are being used to replace the flagged P&W engines? Don’t just blindly follow international guidelines.
Use your own discretion, based on Indian conditions and safety requirements, to ensure passengers’ safety,” the bench said. In February this year, EASA had issued an airworthiness directive for A320neo planes fitted with PW1100 engines having a particular serial number.
As per the directive, PW1100 engines are classified into two types or series of serial numbers — 449, 450 and beyond. The EASA had ruled that engines having the serial numbers 450 and beyond had combustion and other safety problems.
It had advised that all A320neo aircraft across the world with both engines having serial numbers 450 or beyond should be grounded, while those with only one engine with serial number 450 and beyond could continue to fly.