Flawed Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engine blades are deteriorating faster than expected, prompting additional groundings of Boeing Co.’s 787 jetliners for emergency repairs.
The discovery affects about 120 Trent 1000 turbines and has frustrated efforts to reduce the number of idled planes, lifting the number grounded for immediate attention to just under 40, a person familiar with the situation said.
Rolls-Royce discovered the issue with the 787’s intermediate pressure turbine following problems with an Air New Zealand jet in December. Air-safety regulators will publish a formal requirement for repairs in coming weeks, said the person, who asked not to be named as no directive has been released.
“We continue to proactively manage a number of known durability issues within our Trent 1000 fleet and have made good progress in redesigning and replacing affected parts,” London, England-based Rolls-Royce said by email. The issue concerns a minority of 787 engines that haven’t yet had the relevant blades replaced and may cause “additional short-term disruption,” it said.
Rolls has been battling a series of design faults that could cost it more than 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) in repair costs. Carriers including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. and Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA have been forced to lease jets during the summer as engines come off-wing for maintenance. The European Aviation Safety Agency didn’t return calls for comment, while the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it’s working on the issue.
By Benjamin Katz