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Hawaiian Airlines Adapts to Technical Challenges by Extending Airbus A330 Lease

Facing technical setbacks related to Boeing 787-9 deliveries and Pratt & Whitney engine issues, Hawaiian Airlines has taken strategic measures to ensure the smooth operation of their flights. The airline has decided to extend the lease of four Airbus A330-200 aircraft that were originally slated to be returned next year as Boeing prepared to deliver their first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

However, unforeseen engine inspections on the Pratt & Whitney GTF PW1100G engines, which power the Airbus A321neo aircraft, could potentially ground up to four of them simultaneously, disrupting the flight schedule.

In response to this challenge, Hawaiian Airlines chose to prolong the leases of their A330 aircraft to cover for the A321neo's downtime during inspections and potential repairs. Currently, the airline has two A321neo planes grounded for mandatory inspections, leading to flight cancellations. Peter Ingram, the CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, acknowledged that they expect to have between two to four aircraft out of service in the coming months due to mandatory inspections and possible engine repairs.

However, he anticipates gradual improvement in the situation by 2024 as spare parts and engines become more readily available. He also mentioned that Hawaiian Airlines has reached a short-term compensation agreement with Pratt & Whitney due to their inability to provide replacement parts on time, although discussions for more substantial compensation are ongoing.

Technical and Economic Implications of Engine Inspections

The Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared engines were initially highly sought after for their fuel-saving promise when introduced for the Neo versions of the A320 family several years ago. However, recent issues have emerged, raising concerns about the engines. Contrary to expectations, the problems are not related to the gearbox that reduces the revolutions per minute of the main fan against those of the low-pressure compressor. The latest problems have been attributed to contaminated materials used in the production of certain engine components. These issues are affecting all operators of Pratt & Whitney's GTF engines, not just Airbus A320 family aircraft.

As a result, all affected aircraft will eventually need to be grounded for necessary inspections and potential component replacements, incurring substantial costs for the airlines. Hawaiian Airlines is not the only carrier grappling with this challenge. In the United States, airlines such as JetBlue, Spirit, Frontier, and Delta operate Airbus aircraft equipped with these engines. Similarly, in Mexico, both Volaris and Viva Aerobus will face disruptions due to the required inspections and repairs in the coming months.

The aviation industry, along with Pratt & Whitney, continues to work on solutions to ensure the reliability and safety of these engines, which are crucial for the efficiency and performance of modern aircraft. Hawaiian Airlines' decision to extend the lease of their A330 aircraft demonstrates their commitment to minimizing operational disruptions and ensuring a smooth travel experience for their passengers amidst these technical challenges.

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