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Airbus Drops Pratt Engines For A321Neo First Flight

According to Bloomberg, Airbus has decided not to use engines made by Pratt & Whitney to power the first test flight of its A321neo, the largest and most widely-ordered variant of its new single-aisle plane, and will instead use those made by rival CFM International.

Airbus played down the switch, saying it didn’t matter which engines were used for initial flights. The planemaker still intends to deliver the first A321neos powered by United Technologies Corp.’s Pratt & Whitney by the end of 2016, with the CFM-powered A321neos being handed over in early 2017, said Stefan Schaffrath, an Airbus spokesman. CFM is a joint venture of General Electric Co. and France’s Safran SA.

The A320neo is critical to Airbus’s future -- the company has won close to 4,500 orders since first offering the plane for sale in 2010. It’s a more fuel-efficient model of the best-selling A320, widely flown by low-cost operators. U.S. competitor Boeing Co. began developing a rival aircraft more than a year after Airbus got to work.

Boeing sent the first 737 Max to a paint shop on Nov. 30, meeting to the day a time line set four years ago. Airbus appeared to be sticking to its own schedule until delays emerged in December.

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