In another periodic A320neo update, we have some new data. We used FlightAware as our data source.
Starting off with the big picture. The program has been dogged with engine issues. The chart shows where the problem has been focused – Pratt & Whitney. Pratt & Whitney has repeatedly said they have worked through their supply chain issues and engine fixes. It would seem that the tough summer for Airbus and Pratt are moving towards a much better fall and winter. Meanwhile, the data shows the CFM engine allowed the fleet to continue to build flight hours.
Next, let’s look at the fleet size in 2017. In January the fleet was close to even by engine types. By November Airbus had delivered a lot of aircraft, 126 to be exact. As we would expect, the LEAP-powered fleet grew faster than the GTF-powered fleet. The summer engine blues at Pratt & Whitney were surely miserable. However, post-summer, the GTF-powered fleet grow by ten each month from September. The LEAP-powered fleet started to grow by double digits in November.
When we look at flight hours by aircraft an interesting picture emerges. The GTF-powered fleet saw a sharp rise in average hours per aircraft early in the year. But then engine fixes became necessary, driving down hours until September. The CFM-powered fleet saw a more steady monthly utilization between 120 and 150 hours per aircraft. We find the area in the yellow circle especially interesting because this seems to support the more positive note coming from Airbus about the GTF and also supports Pratts’s contention that they have the worst behind them.
Next let’s take a look at the breakdown by airlines. First the GTF-powered fleet. There are three pricipal airlines that drive the flight hours, and two of those are in India. Pratt has pointed out that this is a tough environment for the engine, what with pollution and dust.
As a support for this contention, we can look at the third biggest GTF-powered fleet at Lufthansa. The combination of a cleaner environment (and the backup from the superb Lufthansa Technik) ensured a very smooth operation. Lufthansa is getting more hours per airframe than most airlines. So the combination of the GTF and A320neo can work as promised.
Next let’s look at the LEAP-powered fleet. First note how many more operators there are than for the GTF-powered fleet. Airbus and CFM have six principal customers, twice that of the GTF fleet. So the monthly hour accumulation will be faster for the LEAP-powered fleet. The most active of the six are SAS, Pegasus and Frontier. To CFM’s credit, there have been few interruptions. (Last week there were 31 separate occasions a Leap powered neo was down for at least one day)
Take a look at Frontier’s fleet as an example. It also shows a reliable and steady state.
In conclusion we think the A320neo program may have seen the worst of the engine issues, especially with the GTF. It appears that, looking at the most recent data, the A320neo fleet is working hard and delivering on its promise.
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.