AIRSHOW-Pratt says CSeries, F135 engine issues no sign of bigger problem


By Andrea Shalal

FARNBOROUGH, England, July 15 (Reuters) - Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies, said two engine failures within a month affecting the CSeries commercial jet and the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet were unrelated and did not point to a larger problem at the company.

Paul Adams, who took over as president in January, told Reuters it had been a "challenging few weeks," but said both engines were still going through the developmental stage that is aimed at flushing out problems and resolving them.

"These are very unrelated issues. They don't have a common quality or design theme," Adams said at the Farnborough air show. "This is a combination of bad timing, and the fact that we're working several new development programs simultaneously."

Adams said engine failures were part of the development process and rejected any suggestion that the issues reflected lack of capacity, focus or inadequate staffing by Pratt, which is working on an array of new engine programs at the moment.

"You identify issues and you resolve them. That's how we make sure that when it gets out to the end user that it's robust, reliable and performs to what we committed to."

Adams said he expected flight testing of the engines that power Bombardier's CSeries narrow-body planes to resume within weeks. The aircraft has been grounded since late May after a major engine failure in testing.

Adams declined comment on the investigation underway into a massive engine failure on the F-35 fighter jet, but U.S. officials have said they do not believe the issue was caused by any fundamental design flaw.

Adams underscored the long-term nature of the engine business, noting that both engines were designed to operate for the next 30 to 50 years.

"What you're seeing is that we have a lot of programs that are in the development phase and the exposure to having engine failure is greatest in the development phase," he said.

"In the long-term perspective, these will be pretty minor issues," he said.

Bombardier hopes to dominate the 110- to 149-seat plane market with the CSeries, built with lightweight composite materials and other technologies designed to reduce fuel burn, noise and operating costs.

Pratt and other companies involved in the F-35 program remain hopeful that the new U.S. fighter jet will still make its international debut at the Farnborough air show. The plane's makers expect to sell more than 3,000 of the new fighters in coming decades.

U.S. military officials decided on Monday to lift a fleetwide grounding order for the F-35, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, improving the chances that the newest U.S. combat jet will make its international debut before potential buyers this week.

But U.S. authorities are maintaining some operating restrictions on the jets given the ongoing investigation.

(Editing by Mark Potter)

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