Air New Zealand’s 787-9 Rolls-Royce engines dogged by problems

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Air New Zealand has been affected by issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. (Seth Jaworski)

Eight Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 TEN engines in Air New Zealand’ s fleet of 13 787-9s {will be|is going to be|will probably be} inspected sooner than anticipated after Rolls-Royce identified high pressure turbine (HPT) blade deterioration when testing batches of the engine.

Singapore Airlines grounded two Boeing 787-10 aircraft on April 1 after discovering the blade deterioration in their Trent 1000 TEN engines during a routine inspection. The aircraft are {out of|from|away from} service until the engines are replaced.

The grounding and identification of premature blade deterioration it its samplings resulted in Rolls-Royce agreeing with Europe’ s safety regulator, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), to accelerate inspections of the engines.

At least seven of Air New Zealand’ s Trent 1000 TEN engines are replacements {for the|for that|for your} earlier model Trent 1000 “ Package C” engines that knocked five Air New Zealand 787-9 aircraft out of service because of blade corrosion and cracking problems in 2018.

Air New Zealand leased three aircraft from EVA Air and Singapore Airlines while those engines were inspected, repaired or replaced. The last 787-9 to join its fleet was after the launch of the Trent 1000 TEN engines and probably had this latest engine installed at the time of delivery.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson said on Thursday the EASA airworthiness directive did not require any immediate action but would {increase the|boost the|raise the} frequency of future checks.

“ {This may|This might|This could} have some schedule impact {going forward|in the years ahead} and we’ re currently working through what {that might be|that could be}, ” the spokesperson said.

Any disruption caused by more frequent inspections would be another knockback for Air New Zealand, already suffering a $NZ30-40 million ($28. 3-37. 7m) hit from the global recall in 2018 of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 “ Package C” engines over the durability issues on the intermediate compressor rotor blade.

{In its|In the} January 30 2019 investor update , Air New Zealand said Rolls-Royce engine issues {continued to be|always been} challenging for the business, both commercially and operationally, but were expected to improve {as the|since the|because the} year progressed.

There are about 1, 000 Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 “ Package C” engines {in service|operating} powering Boeing 787-9s, including with Air New Zealand, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.

A file image of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. (Rolls-Royce)

A file image of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. (Rolls-Royce)

Rolls-Royce said in a statement on Wednesday (European time) {that it|it|which it} had contacted its customers to work out a plan to inspect {more than|a lot more than|greater than} 180 Trent 1000 TEN engines put into service {since the|because the|considering that the} engine’ s launch in November 2017.

Rolls-Royce president of civil aerospace Chris Cholerton  said the blade deterioration {was a|was obviously a} known issue but was occurring faster than the company had expected in some engines.

The company said {it had|completely} communicated to airlines {that the|that this|the} HPT blades in these engines would have a reduced life {and a|along with a|and also a} small number had needed to {have their|get their} HPT blades replaced {earlier than|sooner than|prior to} scheduled.

“ We started development of an enhanced blade last year, which we are now testing. We expect to start incorporating enhanced blades into the Trent 1000 TEN fleet in early 2020, ” Cholerton said, while apologising to customers {for the|for that|for your} disruption the accelerated inspections would cause.

“ These inspections {will allow|enables|allows} us to confirm the health of the Trent 1000 TEN fleet and to improve our {understanding of|knowledge of|comprehension of} the HPT blade deterioration that we have seen in a small number of engines, ” Cholerton said.

A file image of a Boeing 787 with a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine. (Rolls-Royce)

{A file|Folders|Data} image of a Boeing 787 with a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine. (Rolls-Royce)

Rolls-Royce has been {focusing on|concentrating on|centering on} engines that experienced {a higher|a greater|an increased} frequency of flights {at the|in the|on the} upper end of their operating range. The grounded Singapore Airlines jets operated on fairly high cycles on routes to Japan, Korea and Thailand.

Rolls-Royce said the new inspection regime would have no {impact on|effect on|influence on} ongoing proactive maintenance programmes for the Trent 1000 Package B or Package C engines. The company has {put aside|put away|reserve} £ 1 . 5 billion ($2. 74b) to resolve {problems with|issues with|difficulties with} these engines.

It also reiterated its {guidance for|insight into} cash costs on the Trent 1000 in 2019 and 2020 remained unchanged {from its|from the} February 28 full year results guidance that saw the company report a £ 1 . 16 billion ($2. 12b) loss. It {set aside|put aside|reserve} £ 100m in February to fix the engine problems and raised an accounting charge to £ 790m from £ 554m {six months|6 months|half a year} earlier.

An update on the Trent 1000 engine problems from Rolls-Royce's calendar 2018 results presentation in late February 2019. (Rolls-Royce)

An update on the Trent 1000 engine problems from Rolls-Royce’ s calendar 2018 results presentation in late February 2019. (Rolls-Royce)

EASA has issued an airworthiness directive {in relation to|with regards to|regarding} the issue. It can be read here .

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