Airbus stops A320neo deliveries on safety fears
New Delhi/London — Airbus has halted all deliveries of its Pratt & Whitney-powered A320neo after the latest disclosure 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IndiGo, India’s biggest carrier, said on Saturday that it had withdrawn three affected aircraft from service and cancelled some flights after the European Aviation Safety Agency warned of a new issue on the troubled engine programme that may be connected to several in-flight shutdowns. The investigation to determine the root cause continued, the agency said.
The product safety boards of Pratt & Whitney and Airbus had decided that "all neo deliveries are postponed till further notice", IndiGo spokesman Ajay Jasra said. "Airbus and Pratt are working in close co-operation and will be communicating on the way forward to regain normal operations and resume aircraft deliveries."
The disclosure is a blow to efforts by Pratt, a unit of United Technologies, to restore confidence in its most important product after a series of glitches on the engine.
It comes after Airbus CEO 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 aircraft 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 aircraft had been grounded, said informed source, with 43 in-service engines affected in total, all from the most recent batches to come off the engine maker’s production line.
More turbines at both Airbus and Pratt facilities were affected, they said. A spokesman for Airbus was not immediately able to comment when contacted.
Airbus has suffered missteps with its latest aircraft, ranging from delays for the A350 stemming from seat glitches to engine issues afflicting its upgraded A320neo and A330neo models.
Its customers have also become less forgiving about performance standards as schedules tighten and airlines squeeze more flight hours out of their aircraft.