The mounting production delays with new-generation engines have led to another delay.
- Turkish Airlines postpones order for 600 aircraft due to engine issues on Airbus and Boeing planes.
- While air travel demand is picking up, aircraft and engine manufacturers are struggling with production and quality issues.
- Turkish Airlines is considering engine types and maintenance contracts before making a decision.
Turkish Airlines has postponed its planned order for 600 aircraft due to the mounting issues with engines that power both Airbus and Boeing planes. The airlines planned to order approximately 400 narrowbody and 200 widebody jets. According to the Chairman of Turkish Airlines,Ahmed Bolat, the order will include Airbus A320neo family and the A350s, and Boeing 737 MAX, 787, and the 777-9 aircraft. The airline has second thoughts on what could be the largest single aircraft order in the history of commercial aviation.
Engine production and quality issues
As the air travel demand is picking up after over two years of pandemic-related disruption, aircraft and engine manufacturers have been struggling to cope. Whether it is the production issues with Boeing 787 or a long backlog of the A320 family aircraft, the operators are impacted. Similarly, engine OEMs are facing mounting issues on some of the latest engines powering newer aircraft.
Pratt & Whitney and its parent company Raytheon Technologies (RTX) are conducting a comprehensive inspection program for GTF engines that power the A320neo aircraft. The manufacturer has identified parent metal impurities in high-pressure turbine disks that could lead to premature cracks and uncontained disk failures. The company is recalling 1,200 GTF engines from operation and scheduling those for inspection. Beginning in September, the most affected engines will be inspected first. The year-long campaign is expected to cause service disruptions for many operators.
The CFM International LEAP (1-A) also powers the A320neo family. The LEAP (1-B) is the only engine option for the Boeing 737 MAX family. Selecting the engines and maintenance plans for the ordered aircraft is a key step in ensuring smooth operations for the airlines.
Postponed decision by Turkish Airlines
Amid mounting production issues with power plants, the officials at Turkish Airlines are contemplating their choices and best choice going forward. According to the Head of Investor Relations at Turkish, Mehmet Faith Korkmaz,
While we are trying to decide on which aircraft type to place, we are also very close to investigating which engine types to get and which kind of a maintenance contract to get in addition to it. That’s the reason why we have not announced any decision yet.
As the world’s largest mainline carrier by number of passengers destinations, the airline is keen to plan ahead, given long lead times for most aircraft types. Turkish Airlines flies to 126 countries, more than any other airline in the world, serving over 340 destinations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
The airline currently has an active fleet of nearly 400 airplanes. While taking a backseat on the new mega order, the airline is meeting capacity with more leased aircraft, some of which are wet leased. Korkmaz commented,
Going forward, our intention is to grow the capacity in terms of Available Seat Miles (ASKs) by about 7% to 10% year-on-year over the next five years.
The airline expects to have a fleet of 435 aircraft by the end of 2023, up from 394 at the beginning of the year. The fleet size will grow to 500 in 2025, and 600 by 2028.