A320neo deliveries on hold after engine fault identified

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 Pratt & Whitney’s PW1100G engine on an A320neo

Airbus A320neo deliveries are on hold after an issue affecting the Pratt & Whitney engines that powers the aircraft remains unresolved despite a fix carried out last year.

According to a filing with the Indian Stock Exchange made by the India’s largest airline, IndiGo, the airline has had to ground three of its A320neos because of the problem with a seal on the engine. Further deliveries of the A320neos on order are also on hold until further notice, the filing discloses.

The European Aviation Safety Agency has also warned of issues with the engine connected to inflight shutdowns.

Pratt & Whitney and Airbus engineers are evaluating the impact of the problems with a knife-edge seal on the high-pressure compressor aft hub on some of the PW1100G-JM engines that power the Airbus A320neo aircraft.

The US aero-engine manufacturer changed the knife-edge seal on the PW1100G-JM last year to improve its durability. Engines with this change have been entering service since December 2017. However, during January and February four of these modified engines have not perform as anticipated, said Pratt & Whitney.

Some 43 engines installed on 32 aircraft are affected by the problem. This represents almost a third of the 113 Pratt & Whitney-powered A320neo aircraft in service.

Of the 32 affected aircraft, 21 have one engine with the modified configuration, and 11 aircraft have two engines with that configuration.

There are also 55 modified engines on the Airbus final assembly line awaiting installation on customer aircraft. Pratt & Whitney said it is working with Airbus to implement remediation plans.

The two companies are expected to present a mitigation plan to regulatory authorities for a modification to the engine this week.

The PW11100G Geared Turbofan Engine (GTF) entered service in January 2016 and has accumulated around 500,000 hours of passenger service. The GTF engine reduces fuel burn by 16%, reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 50% to the regulatory standard, and lowering the noise footprint of aircraft by 75%.

The alternative engine used in A320neos is CFM International’s Leap 1A.

IndiGo currently operates 32 A320neos. In November 2017 Airbus announced that IndiGo and its partner airlines – Frontier Airlines in the USA, JetSMART in Chile, Volaris in Mexico and Wizz Air in Hungary – have ordered 273 A320neos as part of the biggest deal in the aircraft manufacturer’s history. IndiGo and its partner airlines have ordered a total of 857 aircraft from the A320 family.

13 February 2018

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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