Airbus’ most recent monthly orders and deliveries data shows it delivered 68 A320neos in the first half of this year, meaning the company was at that point only a third of the way towards achieving its target for the year of delivering around 200 examples of the re-engined single-aisle jet. The pace is slower than planned because of what Airbus describes as “in-service engine issues” with the Pratt & Whitney (P&W) PW1100G-series turbofan, one of the two engine options on the A320neo alongside the CFM International LEAP-1A. Problems relating to software and engine start-up times have been apparent since the first A320neo delivery early in 2016. Airbus says P&W has introduced fixes but, “these improvements have not come through yet on a reliable basis under normal service conditions”.
Nine A320neos were handed over in July, comprising the initial example for S7 Airlines in Russia and further aircraft for existing operators AirAsia, Air India, easyJet, Lufthansa, All Nippon Airways, SAS, Vistara and Volaris. Company figures show monthly A320neo deliveries this year numbered two jets in January, 12 in February, 12 in March, ten in April, 12 in May and 11 in June.
Airbus will therefore need to raise its monthly A320neo output rates significantly in the second half of 2017 to achieve the full-year target of around 200 deliveries, and the company admitted in its half-year results this objective is “challenging”. The impact on Airbus’ longer-term plans to ramp-up total A320 production (both classic and new engine options) over the next 18 months, towards a target of 60 aircraft per month by mid-2019 remains to be seen. Mark Broadbent