Delta Air Lines’ chief executive Ed Bastian says supply chain issues will continue to plague the industry for some time, citing issues with Pratt & Whitney (P&W) geared turbofans as an example.

“I hope there’d be no more surprises, but I’d be lying to you if I said I thought that was the case,” Bastian said during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call on 12 January. “We are continuing to work through this in the post-pandemic world.”

Of particular note is P&W’s recent recall of PW1100Gs, which power Airbus A320neo-family aircraft. That issue is causing headaches for many airlines globally.

Delta's first A321neo at Boston Logan airport

Source: Delta Air Lines

Delta CEO Ed Bastian says supply chain issues will continue posing problems for the global airline industry

“We have a lot of reliance on Pratt, the challenges they are facing have been well-chronicled,” Bastian continues. “One of the things we see on the engine side is that the incremental resources that our suppliers have put their resources against, it strips away resources on their existing business with us.”

“Everyone in the engine world has challenges, most importantly on the parts and repair side of the business,” he says. “The suppliers in our industry lost a tremendous amount of experience due to the pandemic and they are struggling to get that back.”

“We are working through this,” Bastian adds.

In October, Delta executives predicted P&W’s PW1100G recall would pose a ”modest to minimal” impact on the Atlanta-based airline’s Airbus narrowbody fleet. The recall, announced in July, will affect Delta’s 42 A321neos powered by the geared turbofans (GTF).

At that time, P&W parent RTX disclosed that 1,200 PW1100Gs needed to be returned for inspections and partial disassembly, citing possibly defective high-pressure turbine disks that require removal and inspection ahead of regular maintenance schedules.

On 11 September, RTX detailed the scope of the issue, saying airlines will need to remove hundreds of the engines from the wings of Airbus A320neo-family jets by the end of 2024. Each engine will likely be in the shop for 250-300 days – a lengthy period because P&W intends to replace affected parts, RTX said.

That company has said P&W’s other geared turbofans – PW1500Gs, which power A220s, and PW1900Gs, which power Embraer E-Jets E2 – have components with the same potential defects, though RTX has said those fleets will be less impacted. 

Delta operates 63 A220s.