Singapore Air Show

Pratt Says Fix for A320neo Engine Delays is Close

 - February 17, 2016, 9:15 PM
Pratt & Whitney president of commercial engines Greg Gernhardt defended the company’s position on the performance of its geared turbofans, destined for the Airbus A320neo.

Pratt & Whitney will deliver revised engines for Airbus A320neo jetliners starting in June, the company reported at a press conference here at the Singapore Airshow yesterday. The announcement comes a day after Qatar Airways allegedly threatened to cancel its engine order.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker has made no secret that he’s seeking compensation after refusing delivery of baseline A320neos powered by P&W GTF (geared turbofan) engines that reportedly have cooling issues.

Answering questions at a media briefing here at the airshow yesterday, the U.S. engine maker denied there were any issues with the PW1100G engine, saying that it was neither a cooling nor a technology problem.

President of commercial engines Greg Gernhardt said, “Quite honestly, what we are incorporating are some very minor changes in the number three and number four damper in the engine, and its machining. We are changing the dimension by eight thousandths of an inch. It’s a very simple change. We are tweaking the software in the engine just to optimize the start times,” he said. “It’s not an issue.”

Yet Al Baker told Bloomberg earlier this week that P&W had a “long way to go” in providing a fix, and that the Gulf carrier anticipates a “very huge delay” in receiving its aircraft.

Gernhardt downplayed Al Baker’s comments and called him a “very demanding customer.” Gernhardt also refused to comment on client compensation and said that Pratt is working closely with Qatar Airways and Airbus on the issue.

“The engines being built today already have the fixes in,” said Gernhardt.

Qatar Airways was originally due to take its first aircraft of the 50 A320neo aircraft it has on order in December, but rejected it, citing operational restrictions on the P&W engines. Al Baker was reportedly concerned over the engines’ performance in the Middle East’s high temperatures.

Qatar is not the only unhappy customer, however. IndiGo,India’s largest airline and another key Airbus customer for A320neos, said in January it had been forced to lease old aircraft while waiting for clarity on when it will receive its jets.

At the briefing, Gernhardt said the Indian carrier will take delivery of the aircraft soon, but he declined to provide further details.