Due to the problems with the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines, around 350 aircraft in the A320 family could remain grounded. The aviation industry’s assessments are consequences of the preventive controls that the supplier must carry out due to the problems identified.
The problem seems to be getting bigger. According to the aviation industry, the inspections of the PW1100G engines would be more extensive than originally planned. As a result, more planes are expected to be grounded while their engines are checked.
Initially, it is expected that 200 engines will have to be dismantled by September 15th. Inspections are now expected to rise to almost 700 between 2023 and 2026. The impact is that 350 aircraft from the A320neo family will have to remain on the ground during this period, especially in the coming months.
“Most engine dismantling will occur in 2023 and early 2024. “As a result, Pratt & Whitney expects a significant increase in grounded aircraft for the GTF-powered A320 fleet during 2024-2026.”says the company dependent on RTX (ex Raytheon).
RTX President and CEO Greg Hayes acknowledges that the situation is concerning and extremely difficult for customers. However, operational safety is not jeopardized, which is why inspections of the PW1100G engines are required.
“We are focused on addressing the challenges posed by the metal powder manufacturing problem.” Dice Hayes. “We will never compromise the safe operation of our fleet, which is why the Pratt & Whitney team has worked diligently to develop its fleet management plan.”
Pratt & Whitney reports a fleet management plan for the increased number of PW1100G engines requiring inspection. This indicates that the high-pressure turbine disk and compressor retest protocol should be performed between approximately 2,800 and 3,800 cycles. The service life is 5,000 to 7,000 cycles.
The supplier expects to publish accurate information in service bulletins within the next 60 days. This is due to discussions and guidelines with the various aviation authorities. As a result, between 600 and 700 visits to engine workshops are expected gradually by the end of 2026.
The ultimate operational impact of the issue is subject to several assumptions. To determine them, the engine manufacturer continues to analyze and integrate data, in addition to other variables such as the number of engine visits to the workshops, the scope of work, response times for operators and the availability of parts.
Pratt & Whitney is also investigating possible problems with other engine models. However, he expects other engines manufactured will have a much smaller impact.
To deal with the emergency, the company adds that it is taking measures to increase production capacity and visits to repair and spare parts centers. All measures are aimed at mitigating the impact on operations. Pratt & Whitney emphasizes that the company continues to supply new engines and parts for the PW1100G and its other engine models.
Due to the increase in inspections, more airlines’ capacity forecasts are expected to be affected. The situation is complex given the supply chain issues affecting the aviation industry and the resulting delays in deliveries from Airbus.
Some airlines that have the biggest problems with preventive inspections include Air China, Go First, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue and Spirit. Recently, Lufthansa said it was evaluating the situation, while Wizz Air announced a capacity cut forced by this issue.
In Latin America, the airlines equipping their A320neo engines with PW1100G engines are JetSMART, LATAM, Viva Aerobus and Volaris. Those most affected are companies that have a smaller number of aircraft due to lower replacement capacity.
It is possible that JetSMART will have a significant operational impact, particularly in Chile, where several A320neos are in service. The company is trying to compensate for the deprogramming of the fleet by receiving new aircraft, but remains affected. At least two A320neos have been out of service at Santiago Airport in recent days.
Engine problems and various types of contingencies affect the fulfillment of the itineraries. The situation causes inconvenience and anger among passengers.