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An IndiGo A320 in Mumbai (Photo: Sean D. Silva via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Airbus_A320-232,_IndiGo_Airlines_JP7457952.jpg)

IndiGo Chooses CFM for Next Round of Engines for Airbus Fleet

India’s biggest low-cost carrier, IndiGo, announced on May 21 that it had opted to buy approximately 620 new LEAP-1A engines from CFM International to power its massive Airbus A320neo family fleet, which consists of the A320neo, A321neo and A321XLR aircraft. Although the airline did not reveal the value of the deal, the agreement is said to cost the airline millions of dollars.

CFM is a joint venture between US-based GE Aviation and France-based Safran Aircraft Engines.

“This agreement includes 620 new installed engines and associated spare engines, as well as a long-term, multi-year service agreement,” IndiGo said in a statement. “In 2019, IndiGo selected LEAP-1A engines and signed a long-term service agreement for engines to power 280 A320neo family aircraft. This new agreement, therefore, secures the LEAP-1A engine and its long-term service agreements for a total of 590 IndiGo A320neo family aircraft.”

In other words, this new deal also signals a departure from the airline’s earlier plans of powering its Airbus A320neo fleet with geared turbofan (GTF) engines from American aerospace manufacturer Pratt & Whitney.

A factor in the alteration of choices could be because Pratt & Whitney’s GTF engine had caused several disruptions in IndiGo’s flight operations some years ago, due to frequent glitches.

As a safety precaution, India had ordered replacements of all previous generation Pratt & Whitney engines for the Airbus A320neos and only allowed these aircraft to operate again once they were installed with the new-generation engines from Pratt & Whitney. However, senior officials at IndiGo maintain that the airline chose LEAP 1A engines over GTF engines purely due to commercial reasons.

Gaël Méheust, President and Chief Executive Officer of CFM International, said, “We are incredibly honored by IndiGo’s renewed trust in CFM. We are fully committed to helping IndiGo optimize its operations by providing them with industry-leading asset utilization, fuel efficiency, and overall cost of ownership.”

Biggest A320neo Customer

IndiGo is the world’s biggest customer for Airbus’ best-selling A320neo family of aircraft, having grown its Airbus A320neo fleet by 300% since the pandemic began last year.

Currently, it has a fleet of over 250 aircraft including 121 A320neo, 39 A321neo, 95 A320ceo and 25 ATR aircraft. It is slowly phasing out the older A320ceo — short for “current engine option” — aircraft and replacing them with more efficient and newer A320neo aircraft.

For its longest routes and higher-demand services domestically, such as its flight from Delhi to Istanbul or Delhi to Bangalore, India, the airline uses the A321neo as it provides more passenger seating capacity.

With plans in continuing the fleet expansion, IndiGo has placed large orders with Airbus, including for 332 Airbus A320neo aircraft, and 398 A321neo aircraft. Of these orders, the majority has yet to be fulfilled and delivered to the airline.

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