Pratt & Whitney could deliver up to 100 fewer geared turbofan engines over the next two years as new technology and an over-extended supply chain struggle to keep pace with a massive production ramp-up.

P&W now plans to deliver 150 engines this year and 350-400 geared turbofan engines next year, says Greg Hayes, chief executive of P&W parent company United Technologies. The engine maker had previously planned to deliver 200 this year and 400 next year to two certificated customers — the Bombardier CSeries and the Airbus A320neo. P&W also owes engines to flight-test programmes for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Irkut MC-21 and Embraer E2 family.

The slowdown has angered airlines and P&W’s airframe partners, forcing Bombardier to slash projected deliveries of CSeries family aircraft this year to seven from 15. The supply chain slowdown came to light after P&W addressed early technical glitches with the PW1100G engine powering the A320neo, which also slowed the pace of engine deliveries to Airbus and earned it a series of public rebukes from former Neo launch customer Qatar Airways.

The delays also will start to cost P&W financially beyond the capital expense devoted to the engineering and supply chain problems. P&W will likely owe fees to airlines for late engine deliveries, says Hayes, speaking on 16 September at a Morgan Stanley investor conference.

One of the major supply chain issues involves the geared turbofan engine’s most impressive new technologies. By introducing a reduction gearbox between the low-pressure turbine and the inlet fan, the fan blades rotate three times more slowly than with a direct drive system. The slower-moving blades mean that P&W could build them using a lighter material than either titanium or carbonfibre. But assembling the aluminium alloy blades has proven more complicated than expected.

A recently opened P&W factory in Singapore assembles the blades in 60 days, more than twice time required to meet the delivery schedule, Hayes says. Another 36 parts throughout the engine are also lagging behind the required delivery pace, he adds. Of those, five are especially “causing us pain”, Hayes says, without elaborating.

“P&W has got the capital. They spent the money. They just have to go execute,” Hayes says. “There is no bigger issue today for Pratt & Whitney than getting these engines built.”

Source: Cirium Dashboard