Iberia expects to select engine suppliers for its Airbus A320 family order by early April, with Pratt & Whitney trying to secure the airline as launch operator for its PW6000 engine on the A318.

Iberia already operates 76 A319s, A320s and A321s equipped with the CFM International CFM56, but the airline says the size of the new deal – up to 79 aircraft, with 30 firm orders plus 49 options – is large enough to justify an engine competition.

Significantly, the deal includes 15 A318s to replace Boeing MD-87s, providing P&W with a new opportunity to land a launch operator. The only other airline to have chosen the PW6000 – America West – looks unlikely to take the aircraft. Incumbent Iberia supplier CFMI is competing with P&W on the A318, and against International Aero Engines on the other A320 family aircraft.

Although the PW6000 was originally the lead engine on the A318, service entry has effectively been delayed by four years after a major redesign in 2002. The definitive PW6000 is due for certification at the end of this year.

America West has indicated that it will not go ahead with delivery of its 15 A318s, and P&W said last year that there was no firm entry-into-service target for the engine. Iberia says that A318 delivery dates are not finalised, although Airbus says the first is due in the second quarter of 2006.

Source: Flight International