Al Baker Grinds Axe Over Geared Turbofan

Speaking to media last week, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker indicated that the airline had cancelled two more A320neos over problems related to the start times of its PW1100G engines. If confirmed, this means that Qatar has now cancelled three of its 50 firm orders for the type, and while this won’t dent the programme as a whole, it marks the continuation of a rocky first year for the geared turbofan.

The PW1100G-powered A320neo first flew with Lufthansa in January 2016, but it was only in May that Airbus began to receive the first engines incorporating hardware modifications to speed up start times of the geared turbofan (GTF).

Qatar Airways, the original launch customer, had declined delivery as it and other carriers demanded start times similar to A320ceos, which are powered by CFM56 or V2500 engines.

And while Lufthansa and IndiGo took a limited number of PW1100G-powered aircraft, in June, Qatar, fed up with months of delays, cancelled the first of its 50 A320neos on order.

The problems related to uneven cooling after engine operations and an issue called rotor bow.

Differences in temperature can cause thermal deformation of the rotor axis, which means that compressor tips risk scuffing against engine linings.

Through a combination of hardware and software fixes Pratt took the maximum cooling time down to 90 seconds in June as a first step towards matching the start times of the V2500.

With one eye focused on a patch for its early engines, Pratt has had to keep the other firmly on a massive ramp-up in production that is planned to deliver 200 geared turbofans in 2016, 400 in 2017, 600 in 2018 and around 100 per month by 2020.

To learn more about the systems being put in place to achieve this, as well as further updates on the PW1000G family’s entry into service, look out for the forthcoming Engine Yearbook 2017.

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