By Bjorn Fehrm
22 Jan. 2015: When talking to leasing companies at the annual Growth Frontiers 2015 conference in Dublin, Rolls-Royce is the engine manufacturer that is perceived as the least desirable on their airplanes.
This has no reliability or performance background, Rolls-Royce has a good reputation for producing solid and reliable engines which serves their operators well. It is rather the success of Rolls-Royce’s after market program, TotalCare, which is the at the root of the Leasing companies problems with Rolls-Royce.
Lessors and TotalCare
Airplane leasing has an important role in the commercial airplane market, this is not only to finance and lease (rent) airplanes to operators but also to provide the liquidity of available aircraft and engines to the market when operators need extra assets for one reason or the other. This “oiling” of the market takes several forms:
In all these operations the leasing companies prefer to have the maximum of choice for partners and solution providers and the meaning in the leasing community is that airplanes with Rolls-Royce engines present the least flexibility in this respect. Engines on midlife aircraft can represent up to 50% of the aircraft value or more so any real or perceived constrains around the engines are important issues for the leasing community.
Rolls-Royce Senior Vice President, Customer Strategy & Marketing, James Barry therefore used his presentation at the conference to talk about what the company is doing to change any real or perceived constrains for their Trent engine portfolio. He started by pointing out:
Barry then described how the needs of operators and owners of Trent engines change over time, Figure 1.
In the first part of a Trent engines life the operator priorities maximum risk transfer to the engine supplier and highest overall reliability. Any disruption to a widebody service means a large number of passengers have to have their transportation re-arranged with ensuing high costs and loss of passenger confidence. Barry points out that most Trent engines are still in this phase.
As the airframe and engines comes into mid-life or older the priorities of owners and operators change, they now want to wind down the value of the airframe and engines so that at end of life the value of the asset is extracted to the desired level for storing or part out.
“To respond to the market’s needs” says Barry, “we have always maintained a flexible after market services offering”, Figure 2.
“For reasons of attractiveness the overall majority of operators have chosen TotalCare Life or Term for their engines”. “We have however listened to our customers and we are therefore complementing our TotalCare offering with TotalCare Flex” says Barry. “TotalCare Flex is designed to gradually extract the value of the engine to the owner so that the asset has the desired value at the end of its life”.”We do that by using used spare parts and other arrangements in a joint plan with the engines owner”.
TotalCare Flex is still in its pilot phase with the first Rolls-Royce customers but Rolls-Royce expect to brief the market on its terms and conditions later this year. It contains flexibility for change of operators, shorter deal periods, use of used marterials etc. to lower cost per flight hour assures Barry. United is already operating an early verson of TotalCare Flex and others are working with Rolls on the final product.
Rolls-Royce believe that the leasing market shall find that many of their issues with TotalCare shall thereby be solved. Barry also pointed out that the number of third party service providers for Trent engines will grow as the programs now enter a phase where there is a market for such companies, Figure 3.
A340-600 and Trent 500
Barry then gave a status update for their maintenance cost program “Four engines for the price of Two” together with Airbus for A340-600 operators. It assures that the maintenance costs for A340’s four Trent 500 shall not be higher than the cost for maintaining two GE90-115 on a 777-300ER.
This program is in full swing and Rolls-Royce is implementing it in cooperation with Lufthansa Technik at their joint engine MRO company N3 in Germany (the N3 name is denoting it is exclusively set up to service Rolls-Royce 3 shaft engines; right now Trent 700, 500 and 900). Barry reiterated Rolls-Royce’s commitment to the program and to its primary goal, to bring the lifecycle costs of the A340-600 engines in line with those for the 777-300ER. Beneficiary will be customers which will pick up A340-600 aircraft coming to the market from e.g Virgin Atlantic, IAG / Iberia and other A340-600 operators.