Airbus A320neo

Airbus A320neo Test Aircraft Suffers Engine Damage

Airbus A320neo Pratt and Whitney

Airbus Group SE said Wednesday that one of its A320neo test aircraft has suffered engine damage, a sign of further pressure on the European plane maker to meet an end-of-year deadline to bring the latest model of its ubiquitous single-aisle jetliner into commercial service.

The A320neo test plane was undergoing hot-weather testing in the Middle East when the incident occurred in Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates.

Airbus found damage to one of the plane’s two engines last week after the conclusion of the trial, a spokeswoman said. Airbus characterized the issue as minor.

The PW1100G geared turbofan engines are built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. Pratt & Whitney referred questions on the incident to Airbus.

Airbus said a replacement engine had arrived in the United Arab Emirates, though installing it will require the idling of the test plane for a few days.

The company is confident it could work with Pratt Whitney to resume flight tests of the grounded plane soon, the spokeswoman said.

“Our target to start the A320neo delivery stream in 2015 remains unchanged,” the spokeswoman said.

Qatar Airways is first in line for the new aircraft, with delivery scheduled this year. The test program has been running behind plan, though, after some of the test aircraft were idled for about three months earlier this year because of a previous problem with the Pratt & Whitney engine.

The flaw in one of the engine components ensured Airbus wasn’t able to unveil the A320neo plane in June at the Paris air show, an important event for aerospace suppliers to showcase their products.

The A320neo, for new engine option, is an enhancement of the aircraft currently in service, promising greater fuel economy.

It has quickly become Airbus’s fastest-selling jetliner, with more than 4,200 orders.

The aircraft is powered by engines from Pratt & Whitney or CFM International, a consortium of General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA . The first of the GE-Safran powered planes is due for its first customer delivery next year.

Four other A320neo test planes remain flying, the spokeswoman said. Two of those planes are powered by Pratt & Whitney engines and the other two by the competing turbine.

The test planes have logged more than 840 flight hours in more than 280 flights, according to Airbus.

Airbus A320neo Test Aircraft Suffers Engine Damage

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