NEW DELHI: The aviation regulator has suspended the licence of a GoAir aircraft maintenance engineer (AME) for alleged lapses which led to the engine fire seen by eyewitnesses on ground and some passengers on a Bangalore-bound flight at Delhi on Wednesday night. A preliminary probe by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has revealed that two AMEs' negligence caused the engine trouble soon after the GoAir plane took off from Delhi to Bangalore with 193 people on board. GoAir, on its part, denied any negligence and said it followed the drill as prescribed by the engine manufacturer.
"The Airbus A-320 new engine option (Neo) with Pratt & Whitney (P&W) engines was doing its first flight of the day on Wednesday morning from Mumbai to Delhi. An hour into the flight, the cockpit got warning of low oil pressure in one engine. This was followed by a second alert for the same engine in the form of a 'chip warning'," said a senior DGCA official.
The plane landed in Delhi safely. "After an engine gets a chip warning, the AME should have examined the same in the engine once it had landed. The condition of the part for which the second warning had come was such that the plane needed to be grounded. But the GoAir allowed the aircraft to operate under 'minimum equipment list' (MEL) for 10 hours," said the official.
Aircraft engineers routinely release planes for flight under MEL which means that the fault is such that aircraft can be operated for some more time before rectifying the same. This aircraft then flew from Delhi to Leh where it could not land due to bad weather. It returned to Delhi and then flew to Guwahati; returned to Delhi and was scheduled to operate Delhi-Bangalore and Bangalore-Mumbai that evening.
"The AME who released this aircraft for Delhi-Bangalore flight on Wednesday evening did not realise that the 10 hours the plane was supposed to fly under MEL would get over soon after take off. This plane had already done nine hours of flying after landing in Delhi that morning," the official added. The plane would have done close to 14 hours by the time it was supposed to reach Bangalore.
Soon after taking off for Bangalore, the engine had a fire scare and the plane had to return to Delhi to make an emergency landing after remaining airborne for 15 minutes.
However, GoAir denied any negligence on its part. "The aircraft (VT-WGB) reported oil chip detected warning on arrival at Delhi from Mumbai on February 8 morning. The manufacturer P&W has clearly prescribed checking intervals for engines at different stages of accumulated hours.

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