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Airbus pushes back delivery of A320neo aircraft to early 2016

Paris/Berlin— European planemaker Airbus has pushed back the delivery of its first A320neo aircraft to the start of 2016, it said, missing a goal to hand over the revamped version of the jet to its initial customer by the end of 2015.

The A320neo, seen as a profit driver for Airbus and its suppliers in coming years, won safety approval in late November, and Airbus said it was working with its development partners to bring the plane into operation.

s“All three partners continue working with all efforts and full focus towards bringing the fuel-efficient A320neo into service within the next weeks,” Airbus said in a statement, adding that the problem lay with documentation for the delivery, but without giving any further details.

German carrier Lufthansa became the first airline due to take delivery of the A320neo passenger jet earlier this month, after Qatar Airways voiced uncertainty over the performance of its Pratt & Whitney engines.

Lufthansa said it had agreed with Airbus to delay the delivery to the start of 2016 due to “technical complexities”.

“Discussions are continuing such that when we deliver the plane, it is truly operational in the Lufthansa fleet,” an Airbus spokesman said, adding Airbus hoped to deliver the plane in the first two weeks of January.

Engine maker Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, said it was working closely with Airbus and Lufthansa to resolve “documentation items” with its Geared Turbofan engine, which is powering a new generation of jetliners, including Bombardier’s CSeries as well as the A320neo.

Boeing’s rival 737 MAX uses an engine produced by CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric Co.  and Safran.

Earlier this month, UTC chief Executive Gregory Hayes said that uneven cooling of the engine after flight required a special restart procedure under some circumstances.

Hayes said software and hardware fixes were in the works and would likely be implemented by February.

On Wednesday, Pratt & Whitney spokeswoman Sara Banda said the company had plans to incorporate “software refinements and minor hardware modifications” in production engines starting in the second quarter of 2016. (Reporting by Cyril Altmeyer and Victoria Bryan; Additional reporting by Alwyn Scott in New York; Editing by James Regan and David Holme)