The engine issue is only a quality assurance defect. Airbus’ A32neo jet is also powered by the similar LEAP-1A engine and its flying travelers without any reported hitch.
On Wednesday, Boeing Co disclosed, it had temporarily halted the test flights of its new 737 MAX aircraft due to engine-related issue. The news comes just day ahead of the first delivery of its new aircraft and marks a high-profile delay in a program that Boeing had said was ahead of schedule.
The development will not inconvenience any travelers since airlines are yet to fly the Boeing 737 MAX, nevertheless it points to what is potentially a costly disruption, if the problem persists.
Timely delivery is key since a significant portion of the payment is handed over to the planemaker upon its delivery.
The plane’s engine manufacturer, CFM as well as Boeing stated it can’t yet quantify the period of delay the issue has caused.
The Boeing 737 MAX is an upgrade to its best-selling single-aisle aircraft.
As per Rob Stallard, an analyst at Vertical Research Partners, a delay in delivering the aircraft will most likely cause a build-up in Boeing’s inventory, “as planes essentially sit waiting for engines”.
He went on to add, “Investors are acutely focused” on the risks of speeding up production of the new engine, known as the LEAP-1B.
Incidentally, Airbus’ A32neo jet is also powered by the similar LEAP-1A engine. The company has stated it was continuing to fly customers with its aircraft.
Malindo Air, a Malaysian carrier was to receive the first Boeing 737 MAX on Monday for its Kuala Lumpur-Singapore route.
Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA is also scheduled to receive its first Boeing 737 MAX by the end of May. It has now stated it expects a “a few days’ delay”.
“This will, however, not delay the launch of our upcoming trans-Atlantic routes from the United States to Edinburgh,” said ASA’s spokesman Anders Lindstrom in an email.
As per CFM International’s spokesman, Jamie Jewell, the issue with the engine came to light when Safran found a quality-related problem in a large metal disc that’s used in the low-pressure turbine at the rear of the engine.
With CFM notifying Boeing of the same, the later immediately grounded the fleet of nearly 21 planes.
As per Rick Kennedy, GE spokesman, the disc issue prompted concerns that it had not been properly installed in the engine.
“There have been no issues whatsoever with engines in the field,” said Jewell.
All of the engines that have been built so far, will now be sent to either Villaroche, France, or to Lafayette, Indiana, for inspection, said, Kennedy. Of the 30 to 40 engines built, many will have to be removed from aircrafts and then shipped, said Jewell.
It isn’t clear how long it will take to inspect the engine.