Rolls-Royce issues a Trent 1000 update; DAE sells aircraft portfolio

Eleanor Steed
By Eleanor Steed May 30, 2018 16:46

Rolls-Royce issues a Trent 1000 update; DAE sells aircraft portfolio

Rolls-Royce has trebled its maintenance capacity to fix the issues with the Trent 1000 Package C engines used on a quarter of the 787 Dreamliner aircraft fleet. In an operational update released today, Rolls-Royce confirmed a range of new activities the manufacturer was taking to deal with the demand for increased inspections of the engines and also to introduce a permanent fix for the intermediate pressure compressor rotor issue by the end of 2018.

The Package C engine issues first arose in 2016 when an Air New Zealand 787 suffered an in-flight turbine damage over successive days, which let eventually to airworthiness directives from both EASA and the FAA. The EASA directive reduced the number of landing and take-off cycles between inspections from 200 to 80, while the FAA AD reduced the maximum flying time for affected 787s to be away from a suitable emergency airport from 330 minutes to 140 minutes.

Rolls-Royce identified the issue with the intermediate pressure compressor stage 2 blades has having a resonant frequency that was excited by airflow at high thrust settings under certain temperature and altitude conditions. It said, that the vibration caused by this could result in cumulative fatigue damage that could cause blade failure and engine shutdown.

Operators are required to have completed initial checks of the affected engines by June 9. Sources estimate that aircraft currently on the ground number in the mid-30s but this is expected to rise significantly as that date comes closer. With the changes announced today, Rolls-Royce has been able to increase the number of engines is can inspect at any one time to 20. This has been achieved by a combination of lean workscope methods, which includes reducing the work scope to only those high priority items – in this case the internal pressure compressor blades – and streamlining the process to complete inspections more efficiently and quickly, as well as expanding capacity at Rolls-Royce MRO facilities and approved network locations. The manufacture also states that it has developed new on-wing inspection techniques “to support airlines in meeting the requirements of the Airworthiness Directives as quickly and efficiently as possible”.

The manufacturer has also confirmed that the revised compressor blade has been installed in a test engine and will begin testing this week. The Rolls-Royce engineering and design team has been able to accelerate the development of the new blade through a combination of the latest computing capability, “fast make” competencies within the supply chain, and the development of a dedicated facility in Derby, UK, to build engines on which the blades will be tested. Loosely translated, fast make, refers to different manufacturing methods for blades without casting that is more expensive but certainly faster.

Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, President – Civil Aerospace, said: “We fully recognise the unacceptable levels of disruption our customers are facing. We are intensely focused on minimising this and we have set our teams the challenge of doing everything we can to recover our customers’ operations as swiftly as possible. We are drawing on the full resources of Rolls-Royce to address the issue and I’ve seen great teamwork and innovative thinking both across our organisation and in our partnership with Boeing.”

He added: “While we have made important progress in supporting our customers, there is clearly more to do and we will not rest until we have ensured the engine meets the high standards our customers rightly expect. Our teams remain focused on the task in hand and while we expect the number of aircraft affected to rise in the short term, as the deadline for the completion of initial inspections approaches, we are confident that we have the right building blocks in place to tackle the additional workload this will create.”

Rolls-Royce has not changes the assessment of the financial implications of Trent 1000 Package C in-service issues announced on April 13, 2018. The understanding is that Rolls-Royce will account for any additional costs as the situation continues by reducing discretionary spending elsewhere in the business.

The news will be welcomed by affected airlines, which have been forced to lease aircraft to replace the loss of the 787 aircraft – BA stated in early May that is has wet leased several A330s from Qatar Airways, while LATAM has leased five aircraft to replace its grounded 787s.

Meanwhile, DAE Capital, the leasing division of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), has recently signed three agreements to sell 16 aircraft with a total market value of approximately $900 million.

The aircraft covered by these agreements include Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, A330, and A350 family aircraft, which have an average age of two years and are currently on lease to 11 airlines in 11 countries.

“This divestment activity will help us optimize our portfolio composition and monetize some of our recent larger-scale investments,” says Firoz Tarapore, Chief Executive Officer of DAE. “This transaction does not impact our total number of customers. Proceeds will be used to pay down debt and reinvested to support our ambitious growth plans. Proactively managing our portfolio through active trading is a critical component of our long-term portfolio strategy and it is important for us to remain relevant in all segments of the secondary market for aircraft sales.”

These agreements are expected to close in the second half of 2018. The identities of the buyers were not disclosed by the lessor at this time.

Eleanor Steed
By Eleanor Steed May 30, 2018 16:46