The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Monday extended the deadline for IndiGo and GoAir to replace all the unmodified engines on their A320neo aircrafts from May 31 to August 31, in light of the disruption of supply chains because of the lockdown enforced to contain the coronavirus, PTI reported.

The air carriers’ A320neo fleets, which have Pratt and Whitney engines, have been facing technical glitches mid-air as well as on the ground, since its induction in 2016.

“We took a call a couple of days back and instructed both the airlines,” the aviation regulator said in a statement. “Both taken together about 60 engines are yet to be replaced and the obvious reason was Covid-19 impact and the resultant lockdowns. Supply chains and production lines got impacted due to the pandemic and in turn, disturbed the process. Keeping all this in view, we have extended the deadline by three months; up to 31st of August.”

The regulator further instructed IndiGo and GoAir to only use aircraft whose both engines have been modified for flying in the current period, adding that it will not be difficult as “the curtailed operations are likely to last for some more time”.

On January 13, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation had said the unmodified Pratt and Whitney engines do contain an “unsafe condition, which is prone to undesirable outcomes”, and therefore needed to be dispensed with. This came after four “air turn back” or “inflight shut down events” were witnessed on Airbus A320Neo aircraft, operated by Indigo in a single week in October 2019. The lapses occured because of the failure of the third stage low pressure turbine blades.

On May 25, around 500 flights operated across the country after a gap of two months following a countrywide lockdown announced on March 24. The Centre allowed the states to formulate their own standard operating procedures.

Most states have allowed a 14-day home quarantine for asymptomatic passengers. Andhra Pradesh, however, has mandated a seven-day institutional quarantine for people arriving from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. The Karnataka government had also said that it would keep incoming passengers from these states in institutional quarantine for seven days.

Earlier in the day, the DGCA asked airlines to try and leave the middle seats on flights vacant to ensure physical distancing. The order came a week after the Supreme Court pulled up the aviation regulator and Air India for putting passengers at risk by allowing booking for those seats as domestic flights resumed after two months.

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