Last week, commercial aerospace manufacturer Airbus indicated that it would not be able to meet a program milestone, namely customer delivery of the first A320neo aircraft by the end of 2015.
According to published reports, initial delivery customer Lufthansa elected to postpone the delivery due to added technical acceptance and documentation needs required from engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney as well as Airbus. A spokesperson for Lufthansa indicated to Aviation Week (Complimentary sign-up account required) that final documents were missing for both the engine and for the aircraft. According to a statement from Airbus, the new aircraft model will be delivered “within the next weeks.”
What makes this development more interesting is that earlier in December, Lufthansa stepped-up to serve as first delivery customer after Qatar Airways refused to take first delivery because of last-minute operating limitations of Pratt’s new geared turbofan, PW1100G Pure Power aircraft engine. According to Aviation Week, the risk of minimal bending of the engine shaft under certain conditions requires a hardware and software fix, expected by February. According to the Aviation Week report, Airbus elected to delay delivery of the A320neo so that it could offer a “service-ready aircraft from Day 1.”
Airbus itself invested over 300 hours of operational testing to certify the Pratt powered version of the A320neo.
This development is somewhat of a black-eye for Airbus and its prime supplier partner, Pratt & Whitney. The missing of a major program delivery milestone because of proper documentation seems to be more about insuring that the revolutionary new geared turbo-fan engine meets all service requirements. Documentation and certification is an important requirement in a highly regulated industry environment such as commercial aircraft.
With over booked orders for 5500 single-aisle aircraft, Airbus and its supply chain partners need to insure that all product and manufacturing milestones are met as expected, especially with the highly populated A320neo model.