technology

Airbus Halts Pratt A320Neo Shipments as Engine Issues Emerge

  • IndiGo says it has withdrawn three planes from service
  • Latest of several issues for Pratt & Whitney powered aircraft

A security guard stands near an Airbus A320neo aircraft, manufactured by Airbus Group NV, and its Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1100G-JM jet engine.

Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

Airbus SE has halted all deliveries of its Pratt & Whitney-powered A320neo after the latest disclosure in a series of flaws with the next-generation engine, according to the company’s biggest customer for the aircraft.

IndiGo, India’s biggest carrier, said on Saturday that it had withdrawn three affected planes from service and canceled some flights after the European Aviation Safety Agency warned of a new issue on the troubled engine program that may be connected to several in-flight shut downs. The investigation to determine the root cause continues, the agency said.

The Product Safety Boards of Pratt & Whitney and Airbus have decided that “all neo deliveries are postponed till further notice,” IndiGo spokesman Ajay Jasra told Bloomberg. “Airbus and Pratt are working in close cooperation and will be swiftly communicating on the way forward to regain normal operations and resume aircraft deliveries.”

The disclosure marks a blow to efforts by Pratt, a unit of United Technologies Corp., to restore confidence in its most important product following a series of glitches on the engine. It comes after Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders had started to signal his confidence that the turbine’s troubles had been coming to a close.

The European regulator said operators with planes using two affected engines must stop flying them within three flight cycles. Aircraft with one affected engine are restricted from certain extended-range flights.

As many as 11 of the 113 delivered Pratt-powered jets have been grounded, according to people familiar with the matter, with 43 in-service engines affected in total, all from the most recent batches to come off the engine-maker’s production line. Further turbines at both Airbus and Pratt facilities are affected, they said.

A spokesman for Airbus wasn’t immediately able to comment when contacted.

Toulouse-based Airbus has suffered a series of missteps with latest planes, ranging from delays for the A350 wide-body stemming from seat glitches to the engine issues afflicting its upgraded A320neo and A330neo models. That’s against a backdrop where its airline customers have become less forgiving about performance standards as schedules tighten and airlines squeeze more flight hours out of their planes.

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