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  • Writer's pictureCarlos Hernandez

Defective Pratt Engine Forces Extended Grounding of Hundreds of A320 Aircraft

TX Corp.'s Pratt & Whitney unit has significantly broadened the scope of mandatory engine inspections, affecting a substantial portion of its fleet, primarily powering Airbus SE's latest A320 aircraft, which will be grounded for several months.

Approximately 3,000 Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines are scheduled for removal over the next three years to examine potential flaws in components manufactured from contaminated metal powder, as announced by RTX on Monday. This encompasses the majority of the roughly 3,200 GTF engines currently in use on these aircraft.

Considering the existing backlog of engine repairs faced by airlines, this additional maintenance will result in the grounding of approximately 350 aircraft annually through 2026, as conveyed by RTX executives to analysts. They anticipate that this number will peak at approximately 650 planes in the first half of 2024.

CEO Greg Hayes acknowledged the challenges, stating, "This is obviously a difficult and disappointing situation. We're laser-focused on addressing this in the most expeditious and financially sound way forward."

The extensive inspection requirements underscore the significant impact of the engine's latest issue on the global fleet. The Pratt geared turbofan engine is one of two engine options for Airbus A320neo aircraft, a top-selling family of planes. RTX commands a share of about 40% of the A320neo market, trailing competitor CFM International.

This development represents another setback for airlines as they strive to rebuild their operations following the disruptions caused by the pandemic. The engine-related complications further complicate their efforts to expand capacity to meet the rising demand for travel in the post-Covid era.

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