Spirit Airlines CEO dissatisfied with Pratt & Whitney engine issues

Spirit Airlines CEO has addressed the impact of engine inspections on the ultra-low-cost carrier's operation. The airline will ground seven of its Airbus A320neo aircraft next month in compliance with a recall by engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney in July. 


Spirit is the largest US operator of the PW1100G engines, also known as GTF (geared turbofan) engines. The recall has affected other airlines globally. During a recent quarterly results presentation, CEO Ted Christie expressed disappointment, calling the recall "yet another frustrating and disappointing development." The grounding of the aircraft will result in a 5% reduction in capacity, negatively impacting third-quarter revenues by around 1.5%. 

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Spirit's fleet comprises over 200 Airbus aircraft, with nearly 80 A320neos powered by GTF engines. However, some of the engines were not developed at the same time, meaning not all require inspection. Pratt & Whitney called for the recall of engines manufactured between late 2015 and mid-2021, citing alleged microscopic cracks. The manufacturer also warned of "a rare condition in powder metal used to manufacture certain engine parts." The inspection process could take up to 60 days per aircraft, coupled with the microcracks, affecting the ULCC's operation further. 

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The aircraft to be grounded are additional to the seven A320neos grounded due to separate problems with combustors and turbine blades, with up to ten jets anticipated to be out of service for these reasons by 2024. Christie expects affected aircraft to be out of service through the year, with Pratt & Whitney updating the airline on the matter in September. The manufacturer has yet to discuss compensation. Approximately 1,500 A320neos are active worldwide, with around 600 powered by Pratt & Whitney, with no issues reported with the remaining aircraft powered by CFM International LEAP engines. Other airlines affected include Air New Zealand and Wizz Air, while competitor Frontier Airlines is not affected as it uses CFM's LEAP engines.

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