IndiGo, India’s largest carrier by fleet and domestic marlet share, announced a deal with CFM for 620 LEAP-1A engines to power its next set of 310 A320neo family aircraft. These include the A320neo, A321neo and the A321XLR. The deal includes new installed engines and associated spare engines, as well as a long-term, multi-year service agreement.
The airline has over 200 A320neo and over 350 A321neo pending for delivery – which indicates that it is not yet done with the engine orders.
The airline currently has 121 A320neo and 40 A321neo in it’s fleet with seven A320neo and 15 A321neo are already powered by LEAP 1A. The remainder 114 A320neo and 25 A321neo are powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower series engines.
The A320neo was launched in 2010, with majority of the savings coming in from re-engineering the engine. Pratt & Whitney (PW) had a lead in engine development with only the PurePower series available for the initial orders which led to airlines flock towards PW. IndiGo inducted the A320neo in 2016, which was followed by GoAir.
Both the airlines have suffered numerous InFlight Engine Shutdowns (IFSD) as the Geared TurboFan (GTF) technology took time to stabilise.
In 2018, IndiGo and GoAir had to ground aircraft and invest additional manpower in checks and inspections of the engines. There were also restrictions on altitude and airports where the aircraft powered by PW could fly. GoAir had seen an IFSD at Leh leading to emergency landing at Leh – a critical airfield. The Indian Air Force had helped transport an engine to Leh for replacement.
CFM entry in Indian skies
Air India and Vistara which also had the entry of A320neo lined up in its fleet had opted for the CFM LEAP 1A powered version and had seen a smooth induction. While PW powered NEO had restrictions, the CFM powered ones were without any of those – helping airlines truly make the most of the 15% savings with the NEO by deploying the aircraft on longer routes.
At the 2019 Paris Air Show, IndiGo took the leap towards CFM, announcing orders to power 280 A320neo family aircraft. First of the CFM powered A320neo was inducted in September 2020.
The airline’s CEO, in one of the analyst calls, had not blamed PW for the shift but made a reference to a better commercial deal and had called PW great partners.
The latest order is for aircraft which will be delivered from 2023 onwards. This also indicates the massive induction the airline is going ahead with as it transitions to an all NEO Airbus fleet.
PW recently said that it’s GTF engines power over 1000 aircraft globally across 54 airlines. The PW GTF engines power the A320neo family, the A220 and the Embraer E2 family.
While IndiGo moved to CFM, GoAir has placed a follow-on order with PW in 2019 for its next batch on 72 A320neo.
IndiGo’s fleet strategy is seeing it move its focus on the A321neo and its sub types and the airline would have done considerable research on the range that these aircraft powered by CFM can provide based on the fuel savings to get a good deal.
PW powered A320neo will continue to be part of the IndiGo fleet with the airline expected to deploy the A320neo for a longer period than the A320ceo