Airbus says it expects to deliver about 800 commercial aircraft in calendar 2018 after posting a near tripling of net profit amid strong passenger demand.
However, the company said at its full year results presentation on Thursday (European time) achieving that goal depended on “engine manufacturers meeting commitments”.
Airbus delivered 718 commercial aircraft in calendar 2017, a four per cent increase from 688 aircraft delivered in the prior year.
The Airbus program most affected by engine issues has been the A320neo (new engine option) family of aircraft.
Pratt & Whitney’s PurePower PW1100G geared turbofan is one of two engine options available to A320neo customers, alongside the CFM International LEAP-1A.
In early February, Airbus said an issue had been identified on a limited number of recently delivered Pratt & Whitney GTF engines affecting the high pressure compressor aft hub. That had led to some aircraft being grounded and some deliveries postponed.
It said the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) had published an Emergency Airworthiness Directive in line with standard airworthiness procedures.
Further, Pratt & Whitney is investigating the route cause of this new finding with the full support of Airbus.
Airbus said in its full year results presentation the impact of this latest issue with respect to 2018 deliveries was “under assessment”.
Meanwhile, it noted there had also been some “maturity issues in 2017 on some batches of the LEAP-1A engine”.
“The A320neo ramp-up remains challenging and requires that the engine suppliers deliver in line with commitments,” Airbus said.
Locally the Qantas Group has 99 LEAP-powered A320neos on order (comprising 54 A320neos and 45 of the larger A321neo) for its Jetstar low-cost carrier operations, with first delivery expected in the second half of 2018.
Meanwhile, Air New Zealand has ordered 13 A320neo Family aircraft – comprised of nine A320neos and four A321neos – powered by the PW1100G and due for delivery at some point in the 2018/19 financial year.
Despite the engine issues affecting the A320neo program, Airbus said it was considering lifting the production rate of its A320neo program to 70 aircraft a month.
Currently, its four final assembly lines in Hamburg in Germany, Mobile in the United States, Tianjin in China and Toulouse in France produce about 50 A320 family of aircraft (both the current and neo variants) a month.
This is expected to rise to 60 A320s a month by mid-2019.
Separately, the company said its production rate for the A350 program was “preparing to reach the targeted monthly production rate of 10 by the end of 2018”.
Airbus said net profit for the 12 months to December 31 2017 came in at EUR2.87 billion, up 189 per cent from EUR995 million in the prior corresponding period.
Meanwhile. adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), which was regarded as the best indication of financial performance, rose eight per cent to EUR4.253 billion.
Revenue was broadly in line with the prior year at EUR66.8 billion, compared with EUR66.6 billion in calendar 2017.
The result was achieved despite a EUR1.3 billion charge on its A400M military airlifter, but also posted adjusted 2017 operating profit of 4.253 billion euros on revenues of 66.767 billion euros and predicted a 20 percent rise in the widely watched core profit item.
Airbus said its Commercial Aircraft division posted adjusted EBIT of EUR3.56 million, up 26 per cent from the prior year.
However, Airbus’s Helicopters division suffered a four per cent decline in adjusted EBIT to EUR337 million amid what the company said was a challenging market amid lower deliveries.
Airbus Defence and Space adjusted EBIT was 13 per cent lower at EUR872 million, with much of the focus on its A400M program.