The trials and tribulations of Pratt & Whitney’s PW1000G geared turbofan series continued last week with an in-flight engine failure of a PW1200G powering a Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) test flight near Oregon.
Despite an uncontained engine failure of a PW1500G during CSeries testing in 2014, that engine has encountered few problems since it entered service. Most attention, instead, has been on the reliability problems of the PW1100G for the A320neo.
It had been thought that most problems were restricted to higher-thrust variants of the PW1000G line, rather than the regional jet-powering PW1200G and PW1500G, but last week’s failure may mean that issues are more widespread.
Of course, there is a good chance that the PW1200G shutdown had nothing to do with the ‘rotor bow’ or seal plate issues that have plagued the PW1100G, but it is nonetheless a blow to Mitsubishi, whose testing was already well behind schedule.
First delivery for the 70-90-seat aircraft was originally set for this year, but has now slipped to the middle of 2020.
Mitsubishi grounded all test flights after the engine failure, and although a small testing delay may not impact its latest delivery target date, it may hamper the company’s previously stated ambition to meet orders even earlier.
Aside from technical problems, serious concerns remain about the viability of two of the MRJ’s largest orders, with US carrier Skywest and Trans States.
Skywest has conditional firm orders for 100 MRJ90s, although current US pilot scope clause agreements would prevent it from using the aircraft.
Mitsubishi says that Skywest could take the smaller MRJ70 if scope clauses are not amended – which appears a likely prospect – but no airline has yet ordered the smaller variant.