Published: Fri, May 12, 2017
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Boeing halts test flights of new plane over engine issue

Boeing halts test flights of new plane over engine issue

CFM is a 50-50 joint venture between US engine-maker GE and French engine-maker Safran.

Boeing on Wednesday announced it was grounding all flights of its new single-aisle 737 Max.

Earlier this, Boeing got an order of around $22bn (£18bn) from Indian airline SpiceJet for 205 new planes.

The agreement also includes purchase rights for four additional 737 MAX 9s and a lease agreement for eight more airplanes from Air Lease Corporation.

Boeing fell 1.2 percent to $183.18 at the close in NY.

As of the end of March, Boeing had 3,703 orders for the Boeing 737 MAX series from 48 different customers.

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Boeing said Wednesday it still hopes to be able to make its planned deliveries this month.

Boeing spokesman Doug Adler said via email, "Out of an abundance of caution, we chose to temporarily suspend Max flights".

Malindo, an affiliate of Indonesian carrier PT Lion Mentari Airlines, didn't respond to an email seeking comment. "Our plan remains to begin MAX delivers in May".

Primera Air has ordered eight Max 9s directly from Boeing but is also arranging to acquire eight more from United States lessor Air Lease.

On Thursday, Olivier Andries, the head of Safran's aircraft engines division, said the issue wasn't related to the engine's design but was a quality problem with two of its suppliers, and that it should be fixed within weeks.

"This doesn't look like a serious concern", Cai von Rumohr, an analyst with financial services firm Cowen & Co, wrote to his clients, according to Canada's National Post.

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The company is working with engine maker CFM to investigate.

Separately, Airbus said it was continuing flights with its A320neo, which is powered by the similar LEAP-1A engine and is flying customers.

Flight tests for the MAX has so far gone smoothly and there was no indication of problems with the LEAP-1B during ground testing.

Airplanes are always put through their paces before they can fly, sometimes even being frozen overnight in the middle of Siberian winter. Although she would not identify the supplier of the problem discs, she noted that they came from the first disc supplier Safran used. The components must be able to withstand extreme stresses and high temperatures inside the engine.

GE Aviation and Safran confirmed in a statement that CFM notified Boeing of the engine issue.

The problem is a potential material flaw in a metal part inside the engines, detected at one of several suppliers of that part.

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