Up to 1,200 Airbus Jet Engines Recalled

Up to 1,200 Airbus Jet Engines Recalled

During an earnings conference held on July 25, the RTX company revealed that it would be recalling up to 1,200 units of the PW1100G Geared Turbofan engines, made by its subsidiary, engine maker Pratt & Whitney, for rapid inspection.

The culprit is microscopic contaminants found within the powdered metal manufactured at a New York facility. It was used to make engines’ stage 1 and 2. turbine discs made at a plant in Columbus, Georgia, between 2015 and 2021. Impurities expose components to accumulating micro-cracks before their service life spans.

The flaws first surfaced in a damaged disc found on a Vietnamese A321ceo aircraft with the IAE V2500 turbofan. It was part that resulted from the joint venture between Pratt & Whitney. But, by mid-July, Pratt & Whitney determined that they needed to be more confident in assessing the powdered metal’s potential risk to the latest generation PW1100G engines and that they were worthy of an increased inspection schedule.

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RTX (formerly known as Raytheon) plans to inspect 200 of the oldest higher-priority engines by September. An estimated 1,000 more machines may require inspection in the year to follow—though the final number could end up below or above that, depending in part on the findings of the initial tranche of inspections.

Two PW1100G-JM engines are utilized in Airbus’ A320neo and A321neo jetliners. These aircraft compete closely with the Boeing 737 for the crown of the most popular jetliners. The 1,200 engines are estimated to be about 40% of the 3,000 PW-1100Gs shipped.

Every inspection takes about two months to disassemble the engine, replace the discs (if damaged), and then put them back together. Based on previous experience searching for damaged discs in over 3,000 machines, Pratt & Whitney is optimistic that just 1 percent of discs need a replacement immediately.

The recall (or “shortened inspection intervals,” as the company referred) could disrupt the operations of carriers who operate PW1100G jetliners since the aircraft in service are taken out of rotation earlier for inspection. The discovered flaws do not affect the deliveries of brand new GTF engines (the plant rectified the defects by 2021) or the manufacturing of new airplanes.

During the call, RTX’s executive Greg Hayes conceded that the “disappointing” problem would be expensive to fix and would impact customers—though he insisted that it didn’t amount to an “existential problem” for either Pratt & Whitney or RTX.

However, the backlash from investors caused a drop of 10% in RTX share price when the recalls were announced, and Airbus was hit with a 2.5 percent reduction. RTX has slashed its projected annual cash flows in 2023 by half a billion dollars, resulting in a total of $4.3 billion.

An A320neo of Indian low-cost carrier IndiGo in April 2022 at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport in Nepal, where the airline maintains daily flights to Delhi and Mumbai.

The most frequent operator of the A320 is IndiGo, a subsidiary of India’s IndiGo with an aircraft fleet of 143. Other significant operators who received A320neos and A321neos can be found within the U.S. (Delta, Jet Blue, Spirit, United, Hawaiian), China (including Air China, Shenzhen, and Sichuan Airlines), Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, and Vietnam. America Airline’s giant A320, as well as the A321 fleet, however, utilizes the CFM LEAP engine to propel the aircraft.

Fight of the Turbofans: GTF against LEAP

The two most popular jetliners currently in production comprise the Boeing 737MAX and Airbus A320neo series of single-aisle airliners. The 737MAX is equipped with the LEAP engine that was developed by the market top player CFM International (a French-American joint venture), and the A320neo could be fitted with LEAP turbofans or the Geared Turbofan (GTF) developed by Pratt & Whitney.

Joint venture CMF International produced LEAP-1A turbofan engines at the Safran factory near Paris on June 16, 2023. The LEAP-1 is the main competitor of Pratt & Whitney’s Geared Turbofan (GTF) series of engines.

Both turbofans with high bypass were rated as delivering fuel efficiency gains of approximately 16%, which can translate into huge savings over earlier aircraft. Since a typical jetliner could fly for 3,000 hours per year, improving the efficiency of its fuel and decreasing operating costs is the game’s goal for commercial jet travel. Carbon emission reduction benchmarks and offsets aiming to slow climate change also increase the benefits of these efficiencies.

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