Pratt & Whitney’s breakthrough geared turbofan engine has encountered some modest turbulence during its introduction into the Indian market, thanks to premature wear on two engine parts. Because the parts need to be replaced in repair shops and there aren’t enough spare engines to keep all the A320neos equipped with the geared turbofan in service while changes are being made, some planes operated by IndiGo and GoAir have to stay on the ground. This is not a safety issue, but anytime carriers can’t operate their full fleet it’s a problem. Pratt’s corporate parent United Technologies has been doing business in India since the 1800s, but the country is now such a big factor in air travel that the company is sparing no expense to get the startup issues resolved. It has begun implementing fixes and expects to eliminate the difficulties within months. In the meantime, the geared turbofan is already yielding major reductions in fuel cost, noise levels and carbon emissions for 16 operators around the world. The revolutionary geared turbofan technology Pratt has pioneered — it took 20 years and $10 billion to develop — looks destined to transform the global market for commercial aircraft propulsion. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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