Airbus Group is confident that it can meet a full-year target of delivering just under 20% of A320s as re-engined variants, despite the snags relating to the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine.

The manufacturer stresses that, while it only managed to deliver five A320neos in the first quarter, the response from customers is promising.

Chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm says that Airbus’s plants at Toulouse and Hamburg have aircraft lined up in preparation for receiving the upgraded engines – with software and hardware modificaitons – this summer.

“As long as [Pratt & Whitney] stays on track for that, we can get the aircraft out of the door and ramp up in the second half of the year,” he says.

Pratt & Whitney has been “reconfirming” each week its commitment to deliver the modified engines, he adds. Airbus has received the first Leap-1A powerplants from CFM International and Wilhelm says the Leap-powered aircraft are "progressing to certification", adding: "We are on track but some work still needs to be done."

While the five in-service PW1100G-powered jets are “not completely representative” as a population, says Wilhelm, the customers are “pretty pleased” with the A320neo’s behaviour, and the performance is “fully on spec” compared with the airframer’s targets. “I think that’s encouraging,” he adds.

Airbus had opted to reduce the proportion of A320neos produced this year compared with forecasts it made in 2015, as a “de-risking” measure. But Wilhelm says that this figure is fixed at the industrial level and the airframer needs to ensure that it can deliver.

“We target on a full-year basis to have a bit less than 20% of A320-family deliveries being Neos,” he says. Last year the company delivered 491 A320-family jets.

“We have quite a lot of them finished without engines,” says Wilhelm. “But lead times on the A320neo aren’t that long.”

But he says that, to reach the planned output the ramp-up needs to continue. The airframer has yet to fix a target for 2017 deliveries of the re-engined jets but says that, based on the 2016 figures, the number would be “clearly well into three digits”. Airbus is aiming to raise A320 monthly production rates to 50 aircraft in the first quarter of 2017.

Source: Cirium Dashboard