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Tue, May 16, 2023

Go Airlines – Pratt & Whitney Feud Drags On

P&W—Semi-Dependable Engines

Go First Airlines is a temporarily out-of-action Indian ultra-low-cost airline based in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The company is owned by the Indian business conglomerate, Wadia Group.

In March 2020, Go First operated over 330 daily flights to 27 Indian domestic and nine international destinations from its bases at Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Kannur.

On 03 May 2023, the air-carrier ceased operations and filed an application for voluntary insolvency resolution proceedings before the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

Go First CEO Kaushik Khona ascribed blame for his company’s woes to U.S.-based engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, stating Go First was “forced to apply to the NCLT” in the wake of an “ever-increasing number of failing engines supplied by Pratt & Whitney.”

Seeking remedy, Go First petitioned Singapore’s International Arbitration Centre, which ultimately rendered a decision in favor of the airline—ordering Pratt & Whitney to dispatch at least ten serviceable spare engines within 28 days and a further ten engines every month until the end of 2023. In a statement, the arbitrator set forth Go First urgently required the engines to reduce the number of aircraft on the ground. The arbitrator opined Go First would suffer irreparable harm were emergency relief not rendered.

Pratt & Whitney, however, provided Go First only three replacement engines, thereby compelling the airline to file an application seeking enforcement of the arbitrator’s decision with the U.S. District Court of Delaware.

In its plea to the court, Go First declared: “If P&W does not immediately comply with the arbitration award, there is a significant risk that the company will go out of business and be forced to declare bankruptcy.”

Comes now 14 May 2023 and Go First Airlines has reportedly prevailed upon Pratt & Whitney to ignore engine requests submitted by competing airlines and provide it a number of engines greater than that awarded by arbitration.

An unnamed party with ties to the engine-maker set forth: "Currently, Go [First] is seeking to jump the line for engines over other customers worldwide.”

The mystery informant, who spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed no details pertaining to the specific number of engines Go First is seeking from Pratt & Whitney.

Go First Airlines contends its fleet percentage of aircraft grounded due to faults with Pratt & Whitney's engines grew from seven-percent in December 2019 to 31-percent in December 2020 to fifty-percent in December 2022.

In a statement, Go First chairman Varun Berry remarked: "The entire Indian aviation sector is hit due to substandard products supplied by the engine makers. Pratt & Whitney cannot wash their hands off their liabilities after supplying sub-standard engines which has [sic] led to huge losses for all airlines. Eighteen-percent of Indian aviation capacity is currently grounded due to non-supply of engines by Pratt & Whitney.”

By way of response, a Pratt & Whitney spokesperson stated: "Pratt & Whitney is complying with the arbitration order, which asks Pratt & Whitney to take all reasonable steps to dispatch engines to Go First. We are invested in all our customers' success.”

The Pratt & Whitney spokesperson added: "Supply chain recovery following the pandemic remains stressed. We believe the situation will stabilize throughout 2023. This will support the increased output of new and overhauled engines. In the interim, we are providing direct logistical support to our suppliers. We are expanding our MRO [Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul] capacity and working to reduce shop visit turnaround times to improve service availability."

"We have improved time on the wing since program inception, but we are not yet at the level we expected to achieve,” the Pratt & Whitney spokesperson continued. “As with any engine development program, especially with the technology that's new and revolutionary, like the geared architecture, we continue to develop solutions to improve engine durability. In parallel, we are executing on our GTF Advantage development program, our next-generation GTF configuration, that will incorporate all our experiences and technical learnings since entering the service,"

Go First’s fleet comprised Airbus A320neo narrow-body jets exclusively. Subject model is powered by Pratt and Whitney’s PW-1100G Geared-TurboFan (GTF) engine—a highly complex powerplant demonstrably plagued by widespread design and functionality issues.

Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes intimated that up to five-years are likely to pass before the reliability of Pratt & Whitney’s geared-turbofan NEO (New Engine Option) engines equals that of the engine-maker’s CEO (Current Engine Option) models, by which older iterations of the A320 were powered.

Raytheon is Pratt & Whitney’s parent company.

Days after Go First grounded its Airbus A320neo fleet, German flag-carrier Lufthansa—citing issues with Pratt & Whitney engines—announced it was making ready to ground one-third of its Zurich subsidiary’s Airbus A220 fleet.

The Cologne-headquartered airline set forth in a prosaically German statement: "Lufthansa temporarily grounds a third of its Airbus A220 fleet in Zurich due to issues with Pratt & Whitney engines.”

During a telephone conference with airline industry analysts, Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr stated: "The idling of the narrow-body aircraft is on top of three other brand new aircraft with Pratt engines that are also down."

Spohr opined Pratt & Whitney ought rethink its infrastructure, stating: "Way down in the supply chains, there are elements missing and companies need to rebuild their production facilities.”

FMI: www.flygofirst.com

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