Growing frustration with delays in making good on issues that have grounded a number of Pratt & Whitney PW1524G-3 powered Airbus A220s has drawn African carriers Air Tanzania (ATC) and Air Senegal closer, as they consider a joint bid to seek recompense from the manufacturer. African carriers lose patience with P&W over grounded A220 fleets.
Tanzania media report that a delegation from Air Senegal was in Dar es Salaam last week, where they held meetings with their ATC counterparts over their common frustration with P&W. ATC chief executive Ladsilaus Matindi, later said the meetings had discussed P&W’s failure to meet its obligations under the engine supply contracts with the carriers.
“We have been engaged in amicable negotiations with the company to fix the serious engine problems so that the planes can resume normal flight operations. But if amicable negotiations fail, we could resort to legal action,” Matindi was quoted as saying.
Without revealing financial details, Matindi further clarified that the carrier had been seeking replacement engines and compensation for the losses incurred for the time the aircraft have been grounded.
Slightly different problems
While they have suffered disruptions from the unavailability of aircraft, the two airlines’ problems are slightly different. Air Tanzania, which was the African launch customer for the A220, has had two of its A220-300s grounded for more than six months over PW1524G-3 Airworthiness Directives.
On the other hand, Air Senegal has been unable to implement its growth plans because only one of five A220s on order, through a lease from Macquarie Air Finance, has been delivered in December 2021. According to media reports, the carrier has threatened to cancel the entire A220-300 order totaling eight aircraft including three options.
Air Tanzania says is particularly frustrated that, contrary to the recommended 5,260 cycles service interval, before the engines are removed from the wing for maintenance, the powerplants were requiring off-wing maintenance well below 1.000 cycles.
In a tweet last November, ATC announced a “temporary suspension” of some services as a result of the unavailability of part of its A220 fleet. Back then Matindi told AirInsight. ATC’s first A220 grounding was in January 2022, followed by a second aircraft in August of the same year.
Although its engine purchase agreements provide for replacements in event of manufacturing defects, Matindi said at the time, that he did not know when the affected aircraft would return to service, because the carrier had not even been allocated a slot in the queue for a shop visit.
“Until the engines are in the repair shop, we cannot know exactly when we shall get relief. And because this problem is not particular to Air Tanzania but applies to all operators of the Geared Turbofan, there are not even enough spare engines to keep us going as the affected engines visit the repair shop,” Matindi said back then.
Separately, a third African airline operator told AirInsight last week that they would not touch a GTF-powered aircraft for at least another four years because of its reputation for unreliability.