This week saw the GTF-powered A320neo flying again. This is no doubt of great relief to both the aircraft and engine OEMs. Even so, it appears Airbus may be signalling a delay. On an analyst call today Airbus spoke of contingency plans for delay of A320neo certification. These include the fact the majority of A320 deliveries in 2016 are of the “ceo” variety.
When looking at the 597.6 flight test hours so far, CFM accounts for 29.5%. With both engines back in service we expect to see the test fleet build hours rapidly. The GTF powered aircraft built over 13 hours within a few days of being back in service. Airbus is familiar with the engine and with the repair in place, they can now go ahead with their tests.
The chart illustrates the state of play through month end. MSN6101 is not flying yet and accounts for over 58% of flight test hours to date.
It’s early days still, but worth considering that even the re-engined aircraft can be expected to experience delays as the new engines go through the flight test programs and are found to require fixes and tweaks. Nothing is a show stopper. But a slow down or a pause can be expected and should not come as a surprise.