By Allison Lampert and Valerie Insinna
PARIS (Reuters) – Jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney flagged “solid progress” in the aerospace supply chain on Wednesday, addressing a key area of concern for planemakers as they continue to rack up orders at the Paris Airshow.
The first two days of the world’s biggest air show have seen bumper orders from Indian airlines looking to cash in on a rapid rebound in travel since the pandemic and forecasts for continued strong growth in the world’s most populous country.
But the recovery from COVID-19 has been more problematic for suppliers, which are still grappling with rising costs, parts shortages and a scarcity of skilled labour.
That has raised concerns whether jetmakers Airbus and Boeing will be able to hit ambitious goals to ramp up output in order to meet delivery targets for customers.
This week’s orders from India alone – for 500 Airbus narrowbody jets from budget carrier IndiGo and a 470-plane deal for both Airbus and Boeing jets finalised by Air India – add almost 1,000 planes to the industry backlog.
Pratt & Whitney, a unit of RTX – formerly known as Raytheon Technologies, has had a particularly tough time due in part to problems with its GTF engine that have led to the grounding of several planes.
The company said on Wednesday the groundings peaked at 10% of the GTF-powered fleet in the first half of this year, and that percentage would trend lower through the rest of the year.
The GTF is one of two engine options to power Airbus’s top-selling A320neo narrowbody aircraft.
Pratt & Whitney President Shane Eddy, who has faced a backlash from airlines over durability problems and a shortage of spare engines, told the air show he was seeing “solid progress” in the supply chain.
The company has the capacity in place to support maintenance demand but faces shortages of materials, he added.
Meanwhile, jetmakers continue to sign new deals.
Aircraft leasing company Avolon said on Wednesday it had signed a memorandum of understanding to order 20 widebody Airbus A330neo aircraft.
Airbus is also seen close to a potentially large deal with Mexico’s Viva Aerobus, although by Monday some sources were predicting the volume could be closer to 60 jets than the triple digits first reported, with no guarantee of a result this week.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Joanna Plucinska, Allison Lampert, Valerie Insinna; Editing by Mark Potter)
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