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Don't follow intl norms blindly, use mind: Bombay HC on A320neo grounding

Press Trust of India/Mumbai 16 Apr 18 | 07:20 PM

Airbus A320 neo. Photo: Shutterstock

The Bombay High Court on Monday said that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) must not "blindly" follow international guidelines on air safety but must use its own "independent mind" to ensure the safety of passengers.

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A bench of Justices Naresh Patil and GS Kulkarni also asked the DGCA to take appropriate steps to ensure that the modified engines in the affected aircraft belonging to Indigo Airlines and Go Air met with requisite safety standards.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a city resident, Harish Agarwal, seeking appropriate directions to the civil aviation authorities over the recent reports of certain 'Pratt & Whitney engines', that power A320neo planes, being more susceptible to engine failures.

The directions came after the Union government, through its counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, told the bench that it was satisfied with all efforts made by the DGCA on the issue.

Singh filed an affidavit in court stating that the DGCA had ordered for the grounding of all such aircraft that had one or more affected P&W engines.

"We have checked all remedial steps taken by the DGCA and are fully satisfied. DGCA's imposes 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, and another safe one, to continue operating, the DGCA has grounded even those aircraft that had just one affected? engine and the other was working fine," Singh said.

However, the bench asked whether 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 passenger safety," the bench said.

In February this year, EASA 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, and 450 and beyond.

The EASA ruled that engines having the serial numbers 450 and beyond had combustion and other safety problems.

It ruled that across the world, all A320neo aircraft with both engines having 450 or beyond serial numbers should be grounded, while those with only one 450 and beyond could continue to fly.

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