Aero-engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has said it is hopeful that the number of Boeing 787s grounded by Trent 1000 problems could drop to single figures by the end of the year.
Some 31 787s are currently sat on the ground at airports around the world, Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East told investors on Feb. 28, as the company announced it 2018 results.
The company is currently undertaking an extensive retrofit program for both the Trent 1000 Package C and B engines for the 787-8 and -9 and the Trent 1000TEN powering the 787-10.
The issues have forced airlines to readjust their timetables or bring in additional capacity to maintain their flight schedules.
“The Trent 1000 situation was very unusual in having multiple issues in one engine,” said East.
“It has of course caused a huge level of disruption for our customers…we sincerely regret this disruption, we want all those aircraft flying,” he added.
The episode looks set to cost the company at least £1.5 billion between 2017 and 2022, with £431 million spent in 2018 and £450 million envisaged during 2019.
East said the company benefited from a “fantastic Christmas present” following the U.S. FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approvals in December of the redesigned intermediate pressure (IP) compressor blade for Package C engine.
Some 386 Package C engines are in the worldwide 787 fleet.
East said the first engines fitted with the redesigned blade were now flying, signaling what he called “healthiness” in the Trent 1000 fleet.
Hard life limits for the Trent 1000TEN’s intermediate compressor rotor drum were transitioned over to an inspection regime, by EASA in December and by the FAA earlier in February East revealed.
The company is now in the process of redesigning the IP compressor rotor blades for that engine too as a precautionary step with certification expected in Q3 2019.
Work is also ongoing to redesign the IP compressor blades for Package B engines, approvals for which are expected at the back end of the year.
The company also revealed that it has taken a £186 million hit following Airbus’ decision to end production of the A380 airliner in 2021.
Although Rolls-Royce will benefit from engine orders for both the A350 and the A330neo that Emirates has decided to purchase instead of the A380, Rolls-Royce says the hit is a result of “onerous contracts, tooling write-offs and the acceleration of depreciation and amortization on associated Trent 900 program assets.”
East said the company remained committed to supporting its A380 customers for as long as airlines wanted to keep the aircraft flying.
Despite targeting deliveries of 500 commercial engines during 2018, the company managed to deliver 480 engines, due to what it described as issues in the supply chain.
The company did manage to deliver 32 Trent 7000 engines for the A330neo during 2018 and delivered a further 11 during January.
The manufacturer also revealed that the company had withdrawn a bid to offer its UltraFan technology to power Boeing’s future New Mid-Size Airplane.
East said there were “not enough hours in the day, even if we threw money and personnel at it,” to meet Boeing’s schedule.
He added that the company remained committed to UltraFan’s development adding that it would likely feature on a wide body aircraft first.
Overall, revenues in 2018 were up to £14.3 billion compared to £12.8 billion in 2017 with the commercial engines business representing 50% of income.