Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Airbus Completes A321neo First Flight With Pratt & Whitney Engines: First A321neo to go to an airline customer will feature Pratt engines

The Wall Street Journal  
March 9, 2016 12:26 p.m. ET

BERLIN-- Airbus Group SE on Wednesday for the first time flew its A321neo single-aisle plane powered by Pratt & Whitney engine after the U.S. enginemaker lost its pole position to a rival.

The A321neo narrowbody took off from Airbus’s Hamburg assembly facility at around 10:15 a.m. local time and landed at the company’s Toulouse site almost six hours later after completing a series of airborne tests, a spokeswoman for the European plane maker said.

The A321neo is an upgrade of the European plane maker’s largest single-aisle plane featuring new engines aimed at reducing fuel burn.

Pratt & Whitney, the engine unit of United Technologies Corp., was due to lead the A321neo flight test program, though delays in getting the engine ready led Airbus to begin those trials last month with a rival turbine built by a joint venture of General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA.

Airbus said the first A321neo to go to an airline customer will still feature Pratt engines. Delivery is planned toward year end.

Pratt & Whitney also powers the A320neo planes already in service. Deutsche Lufthansa AG on January took delivery of the first of those aircraft after Airbus and the U.S. engine maker failed to meet a deadline of shipping the first of the planes last year.

Airbus has said it has reshuffled narrowbody delivery plans this year to shift more of the newer plane types into the second half of the year. The move is intended to ease the pressure on Pratt & Whitney to get engines ready in time, the Toulouse-based planemaker said.

The new Airbus single-aisle jets are offered with a choice of engines, while the rival  Boeing Co. 737 Max, which flew for the first time in January, comes only with engines from CFM International, the GE-Safran joint venture.

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