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.  Airbus A320neo test aircraft

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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.