Indian aviation authorities yesterday grounded all A320neos with Pratt & Witney engines after three incidents in a week, where an engine shut down in flight. The problem is associated with a seal in the compressor.
It is theoretically possible that both engines could be shut down, and authorities are not prepared to take any risks.
Questions about the development progress and quality of parts are being dramatically brought into focus at all aero-engine manufactures.
Ever increasing aircraft orders have resulted in production rates of 100 narrow bodies a month just from the two major manufacturers. And they alone are looking at making that 120 between them.
Added to others around 120 narrow bodies a month now, they require 240 engines per month. Another 40 per month would be required to raise production to meet just Boeing and Airbus demand by 2020.
The production process for something as simple as a fan blade is days, per blade. Component suppliers are pushed to maintain throughput at ever higher levels and quality suffers – faults aren’t as easily spotted as speed of delivery remains paramount, or suppliers face penalties.
Component makers get little help from big manufacturers, and when pricing is always an issue they don’t have profits to invest in more staff and more plant to produce simple parts.
Similar problems have caused issues at Zodiac and other seat manufacturers. Quality suffers, there’s not enough time or money to expand and train staff to meet production demands, that sometimes don’t last long enough to justify the costs.