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GE readies durability fix for 500 engines on upgraded 737, A320

By Richard Clough and Julie Johnsson Bloomberg News 

NEW YORK — General Electric Co. plans to replace a part in hundreds of recently delivered engines after uncovering a durability problem inside the turbines powering the upgraded workhorse jets of Boeing Co. and Airbus SE.

The manufacturer has identified a fix for a previously disclosed issue with the new Leap engine, and the redesigned part will be incorporated into the production line starting in the second quarter, said Rick Kennedy, a spokesman for GE Aviation. More than 500 engines currently in service will be replaced or retrofitted during regular maintenance, he said.

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While not expected to result in further delivery delays, the fix adds a new complication to an unprecedented production ramp-up in GE’s aerospace business as Boeing and Airbus increase output of their single-aisle jets. GE is trying to meet aggressive targets while fending off a challenge from United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney, which has also experienced faults with a new engine.

GE shares rose 2.05 percent to $14.42, the second biggest gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average. That helped pare the stock’s 2018 loss to 17 percent. Boeing advanced 2.34 percent to $352.75.

The Leap problem, related to flaking of the coating on a shroud in the engine’s hot section, represents “a long-term durability issue,” Kennedy said. The part is performing well, but the coating was initially too thick, he said. It hasn’t resulted in any incidents and there are no planes currently grounded for Leap issues, he said.

GE produces the Leap under the CFM International joint venture with Safran SA. The turbines power the Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A320neo, the newest versions of the narrow-body jetliners.