GROUNDED AIRCRAFTS: ATLC in talks with airbus engine maker

AIR Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) has embarked on negotiations with Pratt & Whitney (PW), the manufacturers of Airbus A220-300 engines for failure to honour its contractual maintenance obligations leading to grounding of two out of three of the flag carrier’s aircrafts since October last year.

The ATCL Managing Director Eng Ladislaus Matindi said in Dar es Salaam on Monday that the contract obliges manufacturer to provide ATCL with another engine, when the old one is undergoing maintenances after 5200 landings and to ensure that the aircrafts remain in operations.

But on the contrary, the manufacturer has failed to honour this contractual obligation and from October last year to date, two out of three of its Airbus A220-300 ATCL planes have been grounded.

“We are engaging in the negotiations with the PW, the sole PW1524G-3 engines manufacturer in the world to fix the serious engine problem so that the aircrafts can return into normal flight operations,” he said, adding that when the amicable negotiations fail  they will go for legal measures.

Furthermore the negotiations will involve compensations to ATCL for the whole period when its aircrafts were grounded as well as the damages that the flag carrier suffered for distorting its image.

He said the negotiations aim not only to get compensated from the losses incurred when the aircrafts were grounded, but above all to make sure ATCL aircrafts return to business undertaking its flight operations.

In this move, he said ATLC is teaming up with Air Senegal whose management is currently in the country to discuss how to go about in the negotiations to ensure that their grounded aircrafts return to operations.

Air Senegal has one A220-300 aircraft grounded while Egypt air grounded 10 aircrafts for similar technical engine problems.

Mr Matindi refuted false reports published by one global news agency that ATCL has approached African Airline Association (AFRAA) on how to address the problem.

Instead, he insisted that it is AFRAA that raised the concern asking ATCL to start engaging in negotiations with the engine manufacturer in order to fix the problem.

The PW1521G-3 is one of the engines listed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposing to adopt a new airworthiness directive (AD) for all Pratt & Whitney. Others are PW1519G, PW1521G, PW1521GA, PW1524G, PW1524G-3, PW1525G, and PW1525G-3 model turbofan (GTF) engines.

The PW is currently running out of stock of the PW1524G-3 engines, thus plunging flag carrier and other airlines to losses as the aircrafts remain grounded for a long time.

Mr Matindi cited some of the serious technical faults of the A220-300 aircrafts with regards to the design of the aircrafts and rusting of the engines in short period of time contrary to the guidelines of the aircrafts.

Due to the problems in the engine design, ATCL was forced to make regular inspections and maintenances before the specified period thus increasing the cost of operations.

“The PW1524G-3 engines made by PW were supposed to be overhauled after 5200 landings but due to the serious technical faults in their designs, they have been overhauled after only 1,000 landings,” he said.

Mr Matindi said the problem of rusting was discovered in the aircraft 5H-TCI in just two years and two months (26months) while in aircraft 5H-TCH was discovered after two years and 11 months (35 months).

“This is contrary to the Maintenance Planning Document (MPD) stating that the problem of rusting was supposed to appear after seven years,” he stressed.

In another development, when presenting the proposed development plan for 2023/24 in Dodoma yesterday, the Minister for Finance and Planning Dr Mwigulu Nchemba mentioned some of the activities to be implemented by the government as to improve the ATCL operations setting aside 603.25bn/- from internal sources to procure five new planes namely Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, two Boeing 737-9, one cargo Boeing 767-300F and one De Havilland Dash 8 Q400.

Also in the year under review, the government will procure Boeing Business Jet 737 – 7.

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