MRO Memo: India Misses Unrealized GTF Support Plan

Credit: Pratt & Whitney

Amidst the trauma of Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan problems in India—which contributed to the collapse of one airline, Go First, and are still causing difficulties for another, Indigo—a preliminary deal for domestic support of the engine has been largely forgotten.

In 2020, Aviation Week reported on a memorandum of understanding between Pratt & Whitney and Air India Engineering Services (AIESL) for the latter to progressively add capabilities on the geared turbofan (GTF).

From its Mumbai facility, AIESL would serve Indian GTF operators, starting with engine upgrades and module exchanges.

Recently, though, the MRO provider’s chief executive, Sharad Agarwal, revealed how this plan unraveled, even after the first engines had been received by AIESL.

“Unfortunately, in the pre-COVID days, the P&W engines had to fly abroad, fly back and because of the uncertainties involved after that, the project came to a ground. Finally, even the engines which came to the shop were taken away,” he told Indian publication Economic Times at its ET Infra Leadership summit.

He added that AIESL remains open to reviving the deal, while Indian government officials have been pressing Pratt to set up an overhaul facility in India, to deal with the pressing maintenance and inspection needs of the country’s airlines.

This would likely be to the chagrin of Go First, which collapsed in 2023 citing the unreliability of its GTF engines as a major reason for its demise.

Meanwhile, a potential buyer for AIESL was reported to be Air India in a joint venture with a European MRO provider. AIESL and several other Air India units were not included in the sale of the flag carrier to Tata in 2021.

Last year, reports emerged that AIESL was progressing toward a sale by its government owner, with completion expected in 2023 or 2024.

Alex Derber

Alex Derber, a UK-based aviation journalist, is editor of the Engine Yearbook and a contributor to Aviation Week and Inside MRO.