Rolls-Royce is accelerating investments in additional maintenance capacity and spare engines to reduce disruption to operators of the Boeing 787 powered by its Trent 1000 engines after admitting it still faces delays in the redesign of an improved high-pressure turbine (HPT) blade for Trent 1000 TEN. Rolls said a new HPT blade for the Trent 1000 TEN will likely not find its way onto the engines in question before the first half of 2021. Earlier plans called for a start to incorporating a redesigned HPT blade into the fleet in early 2020. The revised timeline follows a detailed technical evaluation of the proposed HPT redesign that determined “it will not deliver a sufficient level of enhanced durability.”
“We deeply regret the ongoing disruption caused to customers,” said Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East. He insisted that “improving customer confidence in the Trent 1000” stands as his top priority and promised additional action to further expand the OEM’s maintenance capacity and increase its stock of spare engines. “These steps, which build upon progress made to date, will further reduce disruption to our airline customers and give them the certainty that they need,” East said. Rolls, he added, remains committed—as guided in September—to reducing the number of aircraft on ground to single-digit levels by the end of the second quarter of 2020.
MRO expansion plans include a doubling of Rolls-Royce’s overhaul capacity at London Heathrow and an increase in Derby, as well as transitioning its sites in Dahlewitz, Germany, and Montreal to service hubs with the capability of performing Trent 1000 engine overhauls. It also secured the use of an additional testbed at Dallas/Fort Worth. In addition, the OEM will increase investment in engineering to support the specialist team that it assembled to focus on resolving the final design and engineering “challenges” on the Trent 1000.
Rolls pointed out that the improved HPT blade for the Trent 1000 TEN is the last major redesign activity of the three “significant technical issues” that have affected each of the three variants of the Trent 1000—Package B, Package C, and TEN. Of the nine fixes required, it has so far designed eight and certified seven, which it now is incorporating into the fleet.
The engines’ prolonged issues forced the company to update the financial effect and it expects now total in-service cash costs of around £2.4 billion ($3.1 billion) from 2017 to 2023, up from previous guidance of £1.6 billion.