Lufthansa Keeps A320Neo Inside Germany Until Pratt Engine Fixed

  • Jet turbine requires special treatment for cooling due to flaw
  • Engine maker says software fault should be fixed by April

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, the sole airline so far to take delivery of Airbus Group SE’s new A320neo model, will limit the plane to domestic German routes until glitches with the engine cooling system are resolved in coming weeks.

Lufthansa has flown its first A320neo between Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich since receiving the aircraft in January, and the second, delivered Friday, will stick to those destinations to ensure access to maintenance personnel equipped to cope with any technical snags, Chief Executive Officer Carsten Spohr said at the plane handover ceremony in Hamburg.

“As soon as we have the issues resolved, we’ll use it in our whole network,” Spohr said. “I’m sure this will happen over the next few weeks.”

Robert Leduc, president of engine supplier Pratt & Whitney, said the manufacturer aims to fix the bulk of the flaws by April. “It is truly a software issue, and that’s what we are working on,” he said. The company is a unit of United Technologies Corp.

Airbus has won orders from 80 customers for more than 4,500 single-aisle A320neos since marketing of the model began in 2010. The aircraft’s entry into service has been marred by faults connected with the Pratt engines. Difficulties related to turbine cooling led Qatar Airways Ltd., initially scheduled to be the first customer, to refuse delivery of the plane for now, making Lufthansa the initial user of the model. Qatar Airways has said it will be “months” before it will accept the plane.

Airbus Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier, speaking at the Hamburg ceremony, offered no details about how the plane’s delivery schedule for the plane will be affected by Pratt’s efforts to resolve engine faults. Indian airline IndiGo is expected to be the second carrier to receive the aircraft, he said. Airbus plans to fulfill its 2016 delivery target for the airliner, with numbers picking up in the second half, said spokesman Stefan Schaffrath.

The A320neo, which is assembled in Hamburg, can also be powered by engines from the CFM International joint venture of General Electric Co. and France’s Safran, and planes with those powering systems will begin deliveries next year. Lufthansa has ordered 116 A320-series aircraft, at least 60 of which will fly with engines built by Pratt.

Lufthansa was forced in January to ground a twin-aisle Airbus A330 with an engine issue in Varadero, Cuba. A lack of qualified mechanics and parts had passenger stranded on the island for 68 hours.

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