Airbus Shifts into High Gear To Meet A320neo Delivery Target

 - October 31, 2017, 12:25 PM
Airbus A320s undergo final assembly at the company's factory in Mobile, Alabama.

Airbus’s A320 program leadership expects a busy November and December, as the company attempts to approach its original target of 200 A320neo deliveries by the end of the year. Speaking Tuesday during the company’s third-quarter earnings call with investment analysts, Airbus CFO Harald Wilhelm expressed some reservations about the company’s ability to meet last year’s guidance of 720 airplanes in total for 2017, due mainly to the engine delivery shortfalls from Pratt & Whitney for the A320neo. Rather, it now appears likely it will deliver slightly more than 700 units, including the 31 A320neos it shipped during the third quarter.

Wilhelm declined to specify how many A320neos the company delivered in October, but its total of 89 for the first nine months of the year suggests it would need to ship 111 during the fourth quarter to meet its neo delivery goal. The CFO also revealed that the A320neo’s engine problems extend to the type’s alternative CFM Leap-1As, some of which CFM International shipped as spares to airlines experiencing endurance deficiencies related to peeling of ceramic matrix composite coatings on their shrouds.

However, the CFM diversions haven’t reached nearly the proportions of those of the Pratt PW1100Gs, final fixes to which the engine company plans to test over the next two months and apply early next year, said Wilhelm.

“We can confirm that the solutions to overcome these technical issues have been defined and will be tested,” said Wilhelm. “As I’ve said before they should come on line in aircraft in the Q1.”

Wilhelm added that Airbus expects A320neos to account for at least 50 percent of all A320-family deliveries next year.

“In terms of the number of engines we need to have from Pratt as well as from CFM, I think that is very clear,” said Wilhelm. “But the tests that need to be done in the remainder of the year, in’17 and into ’18, still need to confirm the plan. Remember what we have been doing in 2017. Probably we could have pushed for more engines to us, i.e. to fit on wing and deliver the aircraft, but it doesn’t help if the customer isn’t happy with it...So that’s the remaining uncertainty that we need to go through, but I would expect from today’s point of view from the beginning of ’18 we really see that clarity coming through.”