MTU Aero Engines is working to cut the time taken to overhaul and replace Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF) engines to under 100 days to minimise disruption for airline customers.

Pratt & Whitney last year announced a wide-ranging inspection and repair programme to address a serious manufacturing defect discovered in GTF engines.

PW1100G engine

Source: Lufthansa

A320neo-family jets powered by the PW1100G have been affected by manufacturing issue

Since then the disruption caused, mainly to operators of PW1100G-powered Airbus A320neo-family jets, has led to airlines cutting capacity on the back of widespread groundings due to engine availability issues.

But with Munich-based MTU – a risk and reward sharing partner on the GTF programme – handling around 40% of all overhaul and exchange activity, the company sees a clear need to drive down the time needed for the process.

“I think it’s a duty as a shareholder in [the programme] and with respect to our customers who have been really impacted by this topic, to bring this fleet back into the air as soon as we can with all the resources we have,” says chief programme officer Michael Schreyoegg.

MTU’s target this year is to bring the lead-time to below 100 days, he says; to date, four engines overhauled in its Hannover, Germany facility have been “well below” that figure.

“Our aim in the following years is to strive to be even better and to reduce this lead-time to the industry standard we have achieved before,” says Schreyoegg.

Precise targets for 2025 and 2026 have still to be set, he adds, but notes that the time required to overhaul an older-generation V2500 stood at around 60 days in 2019.

In addition to ensuring best practice in its own repair shops in Germany and Hannover, and its Poland-based EME joint venture with Lufthansa Technik, MTU is sharing its learnings from the process across the wider GTF repair network.

However, the GTF problem could not have emerged at a worse time for an industry that is already battling severe disruption in the supply chain dating from the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

That issue is likely to persist for “the next two or three years at least”, Schreyoegg says, with the problem ranging from the delivery of raw materials through to finished parts.

“This is why the industry has to be reshaped to return to the performance levels seen before Covid. There is still not enough pressure to get back to this.”