Thursday, October 1, 2015

Airbus A320neo Has Setback on Pratt Engine Damage in Test

Airbus said an engine on one of its revamped A320neo jets was found to have suffered damage following flight trials in hot-weather conditions, the latest setback for the Pratt & Whitney-manufactured turbine.

The issue was discovered in one of the test aircraft’s two power-plants, Airbus said Wednesday in an e-mailed statement that didn’t specify the source of the trouble. Deliveries of the single-aisle plane should still begin as scheduled later this year, Airbus said.

The first A320neo, due to be handed over to Qatar Airways Ltd., will be powered by the PW1100G engine from Pratt, a unit of Hartford, Connecticut-based United Technologies Corp. A competing turbine is being offered by the CFM International venture of General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA.

Airbus’s disclosure of “findings in the engine” added to two previous turbine-related disruptions in the development of the A320neo and Bombardier Inc.’s CSeries. Pratt’s geared turbofan engine is the company’s newest offering, and is designed to help improve fuel efficiency.

Pratt spokeswoman Sara Banda referred questions to Toulouse, France-based Airbus, which said it was “currently analyzing the situation in close cooperation with our partner.” The A320neo program -- an update of Airbus’s top-selling A320 narrow-body model -- has a fleet of five test planes.

Airbus’s flight trials with the Pratt turbine on the Neo were suspended from early May through August as the engine-maker dealt with difficulties involving a seal in the area of the high-pressure compressor.

In 2014, Bombardier halted flight testing for several months of the CSeries after an engine failure during ground trials. Bombardier spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera said Wednesday that the A320neo situation has had no impact on the CSeries, which uses a different version of the engine.

(Andrea Rothman - BloombergBusiness)

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