Jan. 22, 2019, © Leeham News, Dublin: Rolls-Royce faces an uptick in Boeing 787s that may become “aircraft on the ground” (AOG) as inspections of Trent 1000s spike in the coming months.
But Richard Goodhead, SVP Marketing, Rolls-Royce, says the worst is behind the company and the airlines—even though it will be a few years before engine part replacements are fully integrated into the global fleet.
There are more than 100 Boeing 787 Trent 1000 customers. About 20 have issues.
“The problems we’ve had with the Trent 1000 are not atypical of new engine programs,” he said. “Indeed, there are examples across the rest of the industry.” Goodhead was referring issues Pratt & Whitney has with the Pure Power engine on the Airbus A320neo and the A220; CFM with its LEAP on the A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX; and GE with the GEnx on the Boeing 787 and 747-8, without naming the engines or the companies.
“What has given us the big challenge is several of those problems occurred at the same time,” he said.
There were four issues causing disruptions throughout 2018. “Three of them are definitely sorted and the fix is new parts. We are about three fourth of the way toward getting those new blades for the IP turbine and the HP turbine.”
Goodhead said RR achieved certification for another fix in December, just before the US Federal Aviation Administration closed due to the US government shut down. This fix will be applied to remaining 787s that have been parked, some of months, without engines.
“We will get back to a more normal level of operations across the fleet” this year, Goodhead said.
When the Trent 1000 issues first arose, resulting in a peak of just under 50 airplanes parked worldwide, the FAA, EASA and other regulatory agencies either grounded airplanes pending inspection or required frequent inspects (depending on the specific issue), while also reducing ETOPS.
Inspection cycles of the in-service, affected Trents are coming up and there may be a surge in AOGs, a company that tracks the issue tells LNA.
This is possible, Goodhead acknowledged, depending on where the cycles are in the inspections.
“What we are most prepared for is a relative flattening of issues once we have the paperwork to prepare for the FAA. Once that happens, we will see less disruption,” said—and all contingent on the FAA getting back to work.
Goodhead appeared at the Airfinance Journal annual conference in Dublin. He was interviewed by LNA editor Scott Hamilton.