Airbus is preparing to "relaunch" its A318 100-seater with a marketing drive to promote the performance improvements provided by the long-delayed Pratt & Whitney PW6000-powered version.

The A318 - the CFM International CFM56-powered variant is already in service - is due to be certificated with the PW6000 by the end of 2005, around three years later than originally planned. Problems encountered with the high-pressure compressor (HPC) led to most customers switching to the larger A319 or cancelling their orders.

"There will be a marketing re-launch," says Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard. "We compares very favourably to the biggest of the regional airliners."

Dr Klaus Steffens, chief executive of MTU Aero Engines, which will assemble production PW6000s in Hanover as well as supplying the powerplant's redesigned HPC and low-pressure turbine, says the delay to the programme is "regrettable...the CFM56 is not the optimum engine because conceptually it's too heavy for that aircraft." He adds that as the PW6000's technical problems coincided with the post-11 September downturn there is "no reason why these airlines will not come back and look at this aircraft".


Source: Flight International