May 11, 2017 / 9:44 AM / in 2 months

Safran executive says Boeing LEAP engine problem not design issue

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VILLAROCHE, France, May 11 (Reuters) - The head of Safran's aircraft engines division said on Thursday that an engine problem with a Boeing plane was not a design issue, and that an Airbus plane using a different version of that engine was not affected.

Boeing said on Wednesday it had halted test flights of its new 737 MAX aircraft due to an issue with the engine, made by Safran-GE joint-venture CFM International. Boeing uses a version of the engine called LEAP-1B.

Speaking at a factory outside Paris where it co-produces the engines with General Electric, Safran Aircraft Engines Chief Executive Olivier Andries said his company hoped to fix the glitch "within a few weeks."

"It is not a design problem but a problem regarding the quality of the production," said Andries. "The LEAP-1A engine is not affected," he added.

CFM's shareholders said last month they expected to deliver 450 to 500 LEAP engines this year instead of 500 stated earlier, although Andries said CFM still aimed to deliver as near as possible to 500 of those engines this year.

Boeing's test flight suspension comes days before it was due to deliver its first 737 MAX to Malaysia's Malindo Air.

Airbus, which offers a larger version called LEAP-1A on its new A320neo aircraft family, said on Wednesday it continued to conduct normal test flights and was unaffected.

However, it continues to experience delays in deliveries of the other choice of engine for that type of aircraft, the Geared Turbofan made by Pratt & Whitney. (Reporting by Tim Hepher and Cyril Altmeyer; Writing by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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