New Delhi/Frankfurt/London: Pratt & Whitney has proposed dropping an engine modification that grounded almost a dozen Airbus A320neo jets as it works to fix the latest glitch plaguing the programme, according to people familiar with the plan.
The move involves replacing a new engine seal with an older one that had durability issues, the people said, asking not to be named because the details haven’t been made public. That should prevent delivery delays and limit the cost to Pratt and Airbus, though a permanent fix will still be required.
The engine maker said it has “released a revised configuration" but didn’t specify the nature of the change. “The solution is based on a design with which the company has significant experience, and this solution has received all necessary regulatory approvals," Pratt said in a statement Wednesday. Engines incorporating the change will be delivered beginning next month.
Pratt spent $10 billion developing its fuel-efficient geared turbofan model for short-distance jets, only for the engines to suffer setbacks that marred their commercial introduction and led to delivery delays. While the fix should help persuade investors that the turbine—and the A320neo—isn’t about to suffer a major crisis, reverting to the original component, itself flawed, may not be sufficient in the longer term.
Pratt has developed “an interim short-term solution" to return the planes to operation, European Aviation Safety Agency spokesman Dominique Fouda said by email. He referred further questions to Pratt, as did an Airbus representative.
The latest issue, which involves the knife-edge compressor seal, led regulators to ground aircraft that have two affected engines. Three such planes were operated by IndiGo, India’s largest airline and the biggest A320neo customer.