Issue identified with Pratt & Whitney GTF engines for Airbus's A320neo

IndiGo Airlines

IndiGo Airlines

The problem involves the knife-edge seal in the high-pressure compressor aft hub and can potentially appear on engines starting with serial number P770450.

In brief, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued, as usual, an emergency airworthiness directive in which it explains that "several engine stops in flight as well as takeoff interruptions have been reported".

A spokesman for Airbus wasn't immediately able to comment when contacted.

The problem could become much bigger if the engine supplier cannot find a quick fix, as the delivery schedule of future A320neo aircraft will likely be seriously affected in that case.

Airbus has briefed airlines and leasing companies and told them it can not yet say how long it will take to resolve the problem, one source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The exact consequences of the Airbus decision are not yet clear, partly because the spare pool of PW1100G may include an unidentified number of engines that need no modification and can therefore be used.

Aircraft using alternative engines from CFM International are not affected. It is in the midst of increasing output and last week said it may speed up further.

"The recommendations are with respect to a certain sub-population of engines, with a particular engine configuration".

"Our precautionary measure of grounding the three aircraft resulted in cancellations of some of our flights". However, if one engine fails, a twin engine aircraft like an A320 can safely land with the other operative engine. Both A320neos and A321neos are affected. "The passengers have also been given choice of full refund as well", the statement added. It is also said extended-range, twin-engine operations (ETOPS) can online be performed with two unaffected engines.

The Pratt & Whitney engines are installed in about 113 Airbus planes across 18 airlines - the majority of which are in India and Europe, a Pratt & Whitney spokesperson told CNNMoney. However, Indian LCC IndiGo confirmed it has grounded three A320neos after the EASA EAD was issued. Airbus selected the PW1100 as the launch engine for the A320neo (new engine option) aircraft family, based on its fuel efficiency, noise reduction, and lower Carbon dioxide and NOX emissions.

The performance problem with the engine performance is apparently new, but Pratt & Whitney has had ongoing issues with supply of new engines, leading to delivery delays and reduced revenue forecasts in recent years.

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