Several U.S. airlines may experience extended downtime for some of their planes and increased disruption to air travel due to a problem with jet engines manufactured by Raytheon Technologies Corp. The issue, which affects hundreds of planes, has implications beyond the operational challenges during the busy summer travel season.
Raytheon RTX recently announced that it has discovered a manufacturing problem in some of its Pratt & Whitney jet engines that were delivered between late 2015 and early 2021. As a result, approximately 1,200 engines will need to be disassembled and inspected, with 200 inspections set to take place within the next two months.
Though not all A320neo jets utilize these engines, the problem primarily impacts the Airbus A320neo family of narrow-body airliners. It is important to note that there are no immediate safety concerns, according to Airbus.
Among the U.S. airlines, Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) and Spirit Airlines Inc. (SAVE), an ultralow-cost carrier, have the largest fleets with planes utilizing the affected engines, as reported by Bloomberg Intelligence analyst George Ferguson.
Furthermore, the issue has significant international implications, particularly for India’s low-cost carrier IndiGo (IN:539448), which is expected to be the most affected. Volaris, an ultralow-cost airline in Mexico, and Lufthansa DLAKY from Germany also operate some of the largest fleets of potentially affected jets.
While Raytheon has addressed the manufacturing problem related to the powder blend on the turbine disk, challenges may persist in terms of both engine production and fleet servicing for Pratt & Whitney. This situation becomes particularly critical given the existing supply-chain and labor constraints, according to Ferguson.
Overall, the jet engine issue presents a dual challenge for U.S. airlines – handling increased downtime and disruption to air travel while also considering potential impacts on engine production and servicing capabilities.
Airbus Faces Challenges with Engine Issues
Airbus, one of the leading manufacturers of commercial aircraft, is facing challenges with its engine supplier, Pratt & Whitney. The company is currently working with Pratt & Whitney and its customers to address the issues and minimize any disruption in the delivery process.
The largest deliveries of Airbus aircraft in the coming year are expected to go to Spirit, Delta, United Airlines, JetBlue, and Frontier Group Holdings. However, Frontier declined to comment on the matter, while Spirit and other airlines did not respond immediately to requests for comments. JetBlue, on the other hand, has acknowledged the situation and is working closely with Pratt & Whitney to assess its impact on their fleet.
It is worth noting that JetBlue and Spirit have recently agreed to merge, but the deal is currently under scrutiny due to an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Justice Department.
According to a spokesperson from Airbus, there is no expected impact on ongoing deliveries, and the company is committed to supporting its customers as they work through the situation with Pratt & Whitney. Nonetheless, industry experts believe that there could be potential delays in aircraft deliveries and a slight decrease in airline capacity in the US.
Fortunately, US airlines such as Alaska Air Group, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, and American Airlines are not likely to be affected by these issues. These carriers operate other aircraft from Airbus or Boeing, which gives them flexibility in meeting their capacity needs.
As this situation unfolds, it will be interesting to see how Airbus manages the challenges and works closely with Pratt & Whitney to meet its delivery goals.