Pratt & Whitney, a subsidiary of Raytheon, is a major supplier of power plants for passenger jet airliners, as well as the engine for the F-35 Lightning II fighter jet. One such power plant is the GTF engine, which powers hundreds of Airbus A320neos, a passenger jet widely used by airlines like Spirit. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, more than 1,000 engines are now being recalled for inspections as parts are wearing out faster than expected, due to a possible contamination in the metal used to make the parts. Fortunately there have been no accidents reported, but premature part failure certainly isn’t good thing for long-term reliability.
The report states that 200 engines are scheduled to be inspected by the next few weeks and then an additional 1,000 engines will follow in the next year. In a twist of irony, in June Pratt & Whitney put out a press release touting the durability of its new upgraded GTF Advantage engines set to be approved next year, skipping over any mention of durability issues with the prior iteration of GTF powerplants.
Minimal short term impact on travel, long term is another question
The Wall Street Journal reports that there likely won’t be much of a short term disruption to travel as only a small number of engines are actually being inspected. As for long-term travel impact, that is yet to be determined as regulators like the Federal Aviation Administration and Pratt & Whitney still need to determine a plan for the future inspection and repair of the GTF engines. Much like how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) deals with recalls from automakers, the FAA is in charge of aircraft and aircraft component recalls, making sure the manufacturer follows the law and minimizes safety issues.
As of now, there are many unknowns as to whether or not this will have a major impact on travel. Busier air travel times like the upcoming holiday season will likely be the real test of Pratt & Whitney’s ability to manage the issue.