Korean Air Lines Co. will be the first Bombardier Inc. customer to fly C Series jets outfitted with Pratt & Whitney engines revamped to address a durability issue, according to the Canadian manufacturer.
South Korea’s biggest carrier is set to become the third operator of the C Series when it takes delivery of its first CS300 jets in the “fall time period,” Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier’s commercial aircraft unit, said Monday in an interview. The planemaker still expects to ship 30 to 35 of its all-new C Series aircraft this year under a “back-end loaded” delivery schedule, he said.
Pratt is rolling out fixes to the geared turbofan engine after a series of glitches since its commercial debut last year, including a problem with the combustor liner and a faulty oil seal. The unit of United Technologies Corp. said last week it has added 300 professionals in the past year to hold suppliers accountable for producing parts on time to help with deliveries.
“Pratt have really added resources and have their supply chain in order, so we’ve got confidence the engines will be coming our way,” Cromer said by telephone from Cancun, Mexico, where he was attending the annual meeting of the International Air Transport Association. “We are orchestrating the timing of the Korean deliveries so that they would get the longer-life combustor.”
While the combustor liner issue hasn’t affected the reliability of the C Series jets flown by AirBaltic and Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Swiss International, the engines on those aircraft will still need to be replaced in the coming months, Cromer said.
“These early engines do have a shorter combustor life,” Cromer said. “Those will be taken care of as soon as Pratt starts delivering the combustor with the longer life.”
Korean agreed in 2011 to buy 10 Bombardier CS300 aircraft, with 10 options and 10 purchase rights for additional CS300 airliners.
The Korean carrier likely will convert some of its options into additional orders after testing the C Series, said Walter Cho, the airline’s president.
“It will be a good airplane, it has good engines,” Cho said in an interview in Cancun Sunday. “We’ll be looking at ordering more.”
Cromer wouldn’t speculate on when or where the next C Series order will materialize, saying the interest level in the program “continues to grow” as the jet meets promised performance targets.
“We are engaged with airlines in just about every region around the world, but timing is always a challenge,” Cromer said.