Airbus delivered to Lufthansa their 2nd A320neo (New Engine Option) on March 31 and it will immediately be put into service from its base in Frankfurt today, April 1, 2016. This delivery now allows for the ‘NEO’ to be deployed between Frankfurt and Dusseldorf. The tail number for this bird is D-AINB.
The 2 ‘NEOS’ in the fleet now serve Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, and Munich.
LH has 116 A32x NEOs coming to the fleet over the coming years. 45 of of them will be A321s while the rest of them will be A320s. Five A320s will delivered to LH in 2016 and will all be based in Frankfurt. These airplanes are destined to replace the current and less efficient A320 and A321s in the fleet.
Engine issues delay A320neo deliveries
As part of a scheduled conference to discuss their 2015 operating results, Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr has suggested that Lufthansa will not accept additional A320neo until a known engine bug is resolved.
Earlier this year, LH took delivery of their first A320neo and put it into service even as a relatively minor issue existed with the Pratt and Whitney that is available as an option on the aircraft. The issue itself is relatively minor. In order for the engine to reach operating temperature and tolerances, it must first warm up for approximately 5 minutes before throttle can be applied so that the aircraft can move under its own power. This creates nothing more than a minor inconvenience at the gate at departure. Pratt and Whitney is working on a solution and they expect engines delivered beginning this June to no longer have this issue and will retrofit existing engines to correct the issue.
In the mean time, LH’s decision is to delay the 4 other A320neo aircraft set to be delivered this year until the issue is resolved. The one A320neo that is in service is operating as expecting, with the engines experiencing 99% reliability and the aircraft is delivering a 20% decrease in operating costs compared to the previous generation of A320 aircraft.
Because of the engine issue, LH is only operating its sole A320neo primarily between Frankfurt and Hamburg which by no coincidence are Lufthansa’s 2 largest maintenance bases so that if any work needs to be done on the new aircraft, it is never far from a mechanic. Lufthansa stated that this was a major factor in delaying the new A320s. Had LH continued to take delivery of more A320neo aircraft with this engine issue, they would have been forced to deploy engineers at all of the A320neo destinations in the event repairs were needed.
No specific date was given for the delivery of the next A320neo to Lufthansa.
After passing last minute inspections, Lufthansa is set to bring their first A320neo to Frankfurt tomorrow and have it enter service on January 24. To mark the occassion, LH will simulcast the arrival of the aircraft on their Facebook page. The aircraft is set to arrive at 14:00 local Frankfurt time on January 22. For those of you interested, you can use this Facebook link to watch the event live.
For those of you that have been reading LH Flyer for the last few weeks you know of the trials and tribulations that delayed the delivery. To catch up on recent events re: the NEO you can visit these posts:
Lufthansa Leapfrogs QATAR to get first NEO.‘
Airbus delays delivery of A320neo.
Lufthansa takes delivery of their first A320neo.
For those of you flying in the next few days, here is D-AINA’s schedule (H/T to FlyerTalk’s Oliver2002):
January 22: Ferry flight to Frankfurt.
January 23: Test flight between Frankfurt – Karlsruhe (FKB) – Frankfurt.
January 24: Lufthansa flight LH010 and LH 017 between Frankfurt and Hamburg.
Lufthansa flight LH110 and LH115 between Frankfurt and Munich.
January 25 & 26: Shuttle flights between Frankfurt and Munich.
In a mild surprise, Airbus announced that it has postponed the delivery of the first A320neo (New Engine Option) for a few weeks in order to smooth out a few issues with the Pratt and Whitney engines being used on the aircraft. Airbus is calling the reason for the delay ‘technical complexities’ while Pratt and Whitney refers to the delay as ‘documentation issues’. I do know that one point of contention was the start-up time for each engine. According to LH sources, the engines have an unusually long start-up time of 2.5 to 3.5 minutes. This is believed to be part of the reason for the delivery delay.
Airbus has not provided any specific target date for delivery.
Initially, Qatar was to receive the first A320 but opted out of the delivery due to engine concerns. That opened the door for LH to become the first operator of the A320 but apparently they too are not satisfied with the issues surrounding the engines thus the delay.
Lufthansa had planned to unveil the A320 on its Frankfurt – Hamburg route on January 6 . These plans have now obviously been canceled and no new launch date has been established.
Late last week, details began to emerge from Airbus that Lufthansa, not Qatar, would become the launch operator for the much-anticipated A320neo (New Engine Option). The anticipation for the ‘neo’ revolves around the fact that it is expected to be 15% more efficient than its predecessor due to the new engines developed for the aircraft.
The reason that led to Qatar no longer being the launch customer had to do with the final tweaks to the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines that are being used as one of the power plant options for the ‘neo’. Qatar had raised concerns that a few minor software and hardware modifications would potentially create operational restrictions until the issues were resolved.
Lufthansa however was comfortable with the work that needed to be done in order to confidently put the A320neo into service so it now becomes the launch customer for the new model. The modifications are performance-enhancing and do not create safety concerns.
The latest information from LH suggests that the delivery of their first ‘neo’ will take place on December 22 and it will enter service on January 6 when it flies from Frankfurt to Hamburg.
LH has 116 ‘neos’ on order of which 61 will fly for Lufthansa mainline while the remaining will be distributed among other LH Group carriers.