Pratt & Whitney Details GTF Recovery Schedule

 - March 16, 2018, 1:49 PM
An aircraft operated by Indian carrier GoAir became the latest A320neo to suffer an in-flight shutdown of a Pratt & Whitney GTF engine as a result of a problematic knife-edge seal design. (Photo: Airbus)

All 43 in-service PW1100G-JM geared-turbofan (GTF) engines undergoing modification by Pratt & Whitney following operating restrictions imposed on them by a February 9 EASA emergency airworthiness directive will return to the air by the end of April, according to PW president Robert Leduc.

Addressing attendees on Friday at United Technologies’ Annual Analysts and Portfolio Managers Meeting in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Leduc confirmed his estimate did apply to the fleets of affected PW1100G engines powering Airbus A320neos operated by Indian carriers IndiGo and GoAir. India’s DGCA grounded the two airlines’ A320neo fleets earlier this week after a GoAir A320neo suffered an in-flight shutdown of one of its GTF engines on Monday. IndoGo experienced two in-flight shutdowns earlier this year.

The engines that experienced the shutdowns, along with the rest of the 43 in-service engines affected by the EASA emergency AD and 55 additional GTFs delivered to Airbus in January and February for installation in new A320neo-family aircraft, included a revised-design aft compressor hub knife-edge seal design P&W introduced into all new-production and some repaired PW1100Gs in December.

Leduc said that by Thursday Airbus had returned to P&W for rework 22 of the 55 new engines that incorporated the new-design knife-edge seal and that P&W will receive the remaining 33 engines by the end of April. P&W will replace the new-design knife-edge seals in all of those engines—and the knife-edge seals in the 43 in-service GTFs affected by the EASA AD—with knife-edge seals of the previous design and then return them to Airbus and to the affected airlines.

The previous knife-edge seal design did not cause operational problems but did require inspections, according to Leduc. P&W decided to develop a new design for the seal because “there was an inspection issue.”

“We’d rather it wasn’t inspected,” he explained, citing maintenance cost considerations. “[But the new design] did not work out and we backed it out.”

While conceding that P&W’s GTF production has been “low in the first quarter” against target because of the knife-edge seal issue (the company had to stop production entirely for a short time in February), Leduc said that by third quarter the company will catch up with its delivery schedule toward its planned 2018 production total. “We will make our full-year commitment to Airbus,” he said. “We reaffirm our [GTF production] guidance for 2018.”

P&W has said on several occasions that it expects to deliver between 700 and 800 GTF engines in 2018 and recently United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes and senior P&W executives indicated this year’s GTF delivery total will reach the upper part of that range, or at least 750 engines. However, other than saying P&W expects to deliver more than 2,500 GTFs in the next three years and displaying a presentation slide that indicates it expects more than 10,000 GTFs will enter service by 2025, Leduc declined to suggest even a general delivery estimate for this year.