New Delhi – Airbus does not expect deliveries of its A320neo planes to be significantly affected by recent problems with Pratt and Whitney engines, the Airbus chief executive said on Friday.
Airbus has handed over about 70 A320neo jets since starting deliveries last year, mostly to Indian carriers IndiGo, owned by InterGlobe Aviation, and privately owned GoAir.
India stepped up inspections of A320neos fitted with Pratt and Whitney engines after at least two incidents at IndiGo and GoAir involving the aircraft.
India’s aviation regulator is investigating the cases separately. A senior government officials said on Friday the authorities did not see any immediate safety issues.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders said engine issues were “unfortunate” and his firm was working with the airlines, the engine maker and government and safety authorities to resolve them.
“I do not see that over time this will largely impact our delivery schedule,” he told reporters at an Airbus event in the Indian capital New Delhi.
Two GoAir A320neos made emergency landings following technical issues last month, and in January an IndiGo aborted a flight on take-off after one of the plane’s Pratt and Whitney engines developed a fault while accelerating on the runway.
Rajiv Nayan Choubey, secretary at India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation, told Reuters at the Airbus event that inspections were now required earlier. “The quicker examinations will ensure complete safety of the flying operations,” he said.
He said Pratt and Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, had told Indian officials it was looking into the issues and whether any technological improvements were needed.
The Indian regulator has also asked airlines to inspect Pratt and Whitney engines more frequently and ordered them not to fly A320neo aircraft if metal chip particles are detected in the engine oil, a common issue that the engines have faced.
Only a small part of IndiGo and GoAir’s fleets are A320neos, but the fleet will grow rapidly as IndiGo has ordered 430 of the jets and GoAir is set to add more than 100.
IndiGo Chief Financial Officer Rohit Philip said 180 of its A320neos on order would have Pratt and Whitney engines, and the airline was considering which engines to choose for the rest. He said he did not expect the engine issue to affect delivery plans.
Airbus said on Friday it would open a new training centre in New Delhi by the end of 2018 able to train 800 pilots and 200 mechanics a year in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market.
Airbus estimates India will need about 16,000 pilots and 8,000 mechanics over the next 20 years, as well as 1,600 new aircraft, of which about 20 percent would be wide-body planes.