Imagine you have a flight to catch which is scheduled to take off at 5:55 pm. As usual, you do your calculations and leave at a ‘safe time’ keeping the standard ‘two hour rule’ in mind. If you are a resident of a tier 1 city like Mumbai, you might also want to consider traffic.
With all the ‘strategically’ taken decisions, you make it to the airport almost on time. After standing in the queue for a few minutes to collect your boarding pass, the minute your turn comes, the airport staff informs you that your flight has been delayed by 45 minutes.
You take the boarding pass, stand in another queue for security check, head towards the waiting area, settle yourself, observe other passengers, scroll through your Facebook newsfeed, listen to music and finally see “boarding” pop up next to your flight number on the indicator.
You head to the gate, board the flight, settle yourself again, look at the co-passengers to your left, to your right, waiting for the flight to take off.
After all the ‘inflight announcements’, your flight is now ready to take off. You put on your seat belt and in a few minutes, the flight finally takes off.
However, as you turn the first page of the magazine kept in front, you hear an announcement informing that your flight has suffered a technical glitch and that it will be going back to the airport to make an emergency landing. What would it feel like? Surely, ‘disappointment’ would be an under-statement!
That is probably what the experience of the passengers of IndiGo flight 6E-395 was like, exactly two months ago.
On March 1, IndiGo’s Kolkata bound A320 neo aircraft had to return back to Mumbai airport for an emergency landing after taking off at a delay of almost 45 minutes.
According to reports, the flight which took off at 6:39 pm instead of its scheduled time 5:55 pm, suffered “high vibration” on one of its engines leading to a "stall" warning.
There has been quite some ‘turbulence’ in the functioning of India’s largest airline, with the constant replacement of the Pratt & Whitney engines on A320 neo's for as many as 69 times since they were introduced in 2016.
During this 18-month period, IndiGo faced three cases of engine shutdown and three other cases of flight cancellation, after it was identified that the engines had serious technical issues.
The airline later had to withdraw three affected planes from service after a warning was issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency, mentioning a new issue with the engines which could have been the reason behind the inflight shutdowns.
IndiGo, which accommodates four out of 10 Indian fliers, assured that their top priority was passenger safety, and they would not compromise with necessary engine replacements.
Despite the airline assuring of safety and the manufacturer of the engines, Pratt and Whitney, claiming that they are working towards creating new engines, the growing numbers of operational failures keep leaving the passengers concerned.
In the most recent incident, on April 27, the airline was forced to ground two of its Airbus A320 Neo planes due to technical glitches, and the two planes were taken out of operations.
On April 28, IndiGo announced that it had accepted the resignation of Aditya Ghosh as president and whole-time director, effective July 31, 2018 and April 26, 2018 respectively.
In March alone, IndiGo and GoAir experienced a number of ‘technical glitches’ and engine failure leading to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grounding of as many as 11 aircraft running on Pratt and Whitney engines.
IndiGo owned eight of the 11 grounded aircraft, whereas, three were operated by GoAir.
Though IndiGo has started receiving the replaced engines from March 21 which helped the airline get some of its planes back in action, it’s too soon to say if it has restored the faith of its passengers.
First Published: IST