LEAP-1A engines ordered for Airbus A320neo-family aircraft

Air Lease Corp “very disturbed” with Airbus and P&W as delays bite

Early this year, Airbus assured Air Lease Corporation (ALC) that the lessor’s 2017 new-aircraft deliveries wouldn’t slip any more than had already been warned, according ALC. But with Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM geared-turbofan production-rate issues continuing to bite, Airbus has now further delayed some deliveries to the firm.

Speaking at the 37th Annual North America Airfinance Conference in New York, ALC president and CEO John Plueger revealed that deliveries of an unspecified number of new A320neo-family aircraft to ALC have been delayed again – this time until later in 2017.

Moreover, Airbus has also pushed four ALC A320neo deliveries back into 2018. Previously ALC wasn’t unduly concerned about the delivery delays to some PW1100G-JM-powered A320neo-family jets, but following the fresh round of bad news from Airbus and Pratt & Whitney, the lessor is now “very disturbed – particularly with Toulouse,” says Plueger. The lessor’s concerns about Airbus’s delivery performance have grown not only because the manufacturer is delaying A320neo deliveries, but also because Airbus has delayed to 2018 the deliveries of two new A350-900 widebodies originally due to be handed over to ALC this year, according to Plueger.

The new A350-900 delays are due to “fuselage and cabin issues”. Additionally, the fact that Rolls-Royce is having to make “slight modifications” to the design of the Trent 7000 engine – the sole-source engine for the A330neo family – is having “an impact” on the deliveries of the first A330neos which ALC is due to receive next year, says Plueger. Together, all the delivery delays have pushed the lessor’s first-half 2017 capital expenditure so far below target that ALC took the unusual step (for it) of purchasing 11 used, 2009-built 737-800s from Turkey’s Pegasus Airlines for lease to other carriers, in order to meet its first-half capex target. Revealing that ALC’s detailed analysis of the competing Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM and CFM International LEAP-1A engines for the Airbus A320neo family shows that the P&W engine’s fuel-burn performance in service to date has been “a little bit better” than that of the LEAP-1A, Plueger says that the PW1100G-JM is nonetheless having more initial operational teething troubles than the CFM engine.

The biggest issue the PW1100G-JM has experienced in A320neo-family service so far has involved failures of some engines’ number three bearings, he adds. The CFM International LEAP-1A-powered version of the A321neo was granted joint Type Certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration on 1 March 2017. Image: Airbus For Pratt & Whitney, in trying to produce enough PW1100G-JMs to meet both the demand for initial installation on new-delivery A320neos and to replace in-service engines which have to be swapped after failures, “the issue is, can Pratt & Whitney recover [its PW1100G-JM delivery rate] in production?” asks Plueger. “The problem for Pratt & Whitney and Airbus is that far more engines have had to be allocated to the installed fleet than ever was contemplated … We do feel Pratt & Whitney will recover,” but ALC remains concerned about […]

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