Airbus A320neo Tests to Resume Shortly After Engine Fix

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Airbus A320 Neo Aircraft
An Airbus A320neo aircraft, manufactured by Airbus Group NV. Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

Airbus Group SE could resume ground tests this week for the A320neo jet powered by Pratt & Whitney engines after an issue with the power plants interrupted the cycles, a Pratt executive said.

Flight trials are likely to begin in “a few weeks” after Pratt modified a part that led to a pause in testing last month, Paul Adams, the engine-maker’s president, said Sunday in an interview in Paris ahead of an international air show.

“We’ll actually start certification testing on the ground this week and we’ll have engines back to Airbus in a couple weeks,” Adams said. “I’m not anticipating this to be a major issue.”

The A320neo is on offer to airlines with a choice of two engines, one by United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt and the other by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA.

Adams said he expects by the end of the air show to have orders for about 7,000 geared turbofan engines, which will power models such as Bombardier Inc.’s CSeries in addition to the A320neo. That compares with a backlog of about 6,400 before the Paris show, which kicks off tomorrow and alternates with the bi-annual Farnborough event south of London.

Minor Part

Airbus’s plan calls for the Pratt-powered A320neo model to be delivered first. Flight trials with that aircraft have been suspended since early May as the engine maker focuses on trouble-shooting a difficulty with a seal. A manufacturing problem caused a 10-inch part known as a retaining ring to come loose, said Gregory Gernhardt, Pratt’s president of commercial engines.

“It is in the combustor section, so you do have to tear into the core, which does take some time,” Gernhardt said in a media briefing in Paris. “But it is a relatively minor part.”

Even with the interruption, Airbus has said it is on track to deliver the first A320neo to Qatar Airways Ltd.

Separately, Pratt is in talks with Boeing Co. about a possible new narrow-body plane that could fill a gap in the market left when production of the 757 model ended a decade ago, Adams said.

“Boeing has been talking about a middle-of-the-market product that might be in that space of the 757,” Adams said. “It’s pretty normal for us to be having studies with people about what potential products they’ll have in the future.”

For more on the 2015 Paris Air Show, go here: Special Report

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