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Fixing faulty GTF seal to cost $50 million: P&W

A new design flaw discovered in January on about 100 Pratt & Whitney engines for the Airbus A320neo family will cost the engine manufacturer $50 million to resolve, P&W chief executive Bob Leduc said on 16 March.

P&W has resumed shipments of PW1100Gs to Airbus with a previous design of a knife edge seal in the high pressure compressor that does not have the flaw, Leduc says.

Of the 55 geared turbofans already delivered to Airbus’ assembly lines with the faulty knife edge seal, 22 have been shipped back to P&W to be fixed, he adds. The remaining 33 engines still at Airbus will be returned to P&W by the end of April, he says.

Around the same time, P&W also plans to have fixed the roughly 45 engines already delivered to airlines with the design flaw in the knife edge seal, Leduc says.

Despite the focus on fixing the affected engines, P&W still plans to keep deliveries on track to Airbus. In previous years, P&W had discussed plans to deliver 750-800 engines in 2018, but Leduc declines to provide an updated delivery forecast, saying the estimate would give competitors data on the company’s financial losses with each unit delivered. But Leduc did provide a long-range delivery estimate.

"Over the next three years we will deliver over 2,500 engines. That I will tell you," he says.

The $50 million cost to recover from the knife edge seal problem will increase the company’s losses on geared turbofan engine deliveries this year to "closer to $1.2 billion", Leduc says.

The knife edge seal was discovered in January after four aircraft experienced engine shutdowns on take-off or during flight.

Leduc says the engine’s original knife edge seal was delivered with a design flaw that required an inspection after a certain interval of flight hours.

A redesigned knife edge seal was introduced in the production system late last year, but made the problem worse. Instead of merely an inspection requirement, the redesigned knife edge seal caused the engine to shutdown.

P&W built and delivered about 100 engines with the flawed knife edge seal before the more serious shutdown problem was discovered.

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