Rolls Royce scrambling to find Trent 900 replacement engines

Mechanic working on a Rolls Royce Trent 900 en...

Trent 900: image via Wikipedia

Rolls Royce is asking Airbus to return new engines destined for new aircraft so that they can be supplied to Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa for their operations. This in turn is having a knock-on effect on future A380 deliveries.

In the meantime Qantas seems to be having a rash of minor issues which have caused aircraft to return after cockpit fires, bird hits and lightning strikes.

The European Regulator (EASA) has not commented on why they relaxed their Airworthiness Directive and whether this was done in response to representations from Rolls Royce. The engine maker is also silent on whether they knew of the Trent 900 problem and the risk for an engine fire prior to the uncontained explosion of an engine on QF32.

Reuters reports on the logistics problems faced by Rolls Royce:

British enginemaker Rolls-Royce has asked Airbus to return Trent 900 engines from A380 superjumbo production lines so they can be used to replace faulty ones on aircraft already in service.

The Airbus A380 — the world’s largest passenger aircraft with an average list price of about $350 million — has been hit by safety concerns after a Rolls-Royce engine partly disintegrated mid-flight, forcing a fully laden Qantas plane to make an emergency landing in Singapore on Nov 4.

Rolls-Royce’s move could be another blow to a much-delayed A380 program as Airbus was scheduled to deliver over a dozen Rolls-Royce-powered A380s — primarily to Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Lufthansa by the end of next year.

“Until this problem is fully resolved I think the situation with the delivery of A380 to customers … will be in jeopardy,” Standard & Poor’s analyst Sukhor Yusof said. But both Singapore Airlines and Qantas, with a combined 22 A380s still to be delivered, said on Tuesday they had not been informed of any delivery delays.

Airlines using the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines have been ordered by European aviation authorities to undertake major tests, which analysts said were so strenuous they would likely disrupt schedules.

“I can confirm that Rolls-Royce is arranging to supply some new engines from the production line to replace some engines removed from the serviced aircraft,” an Airbus spokesman in Singapore said, without saying which airlines would receive those engines.

Shares in Rolls-Royce, which on Friday said fixing the fault would lead to only slightly slower profit growth, have suffered during its probe and were 0.2 percent down at 596.50 pence by 1130 GMT on Tuesday, around 9 percent below their last trade before the Qantas incident. Airbus parent EADS has lost 5 percent since the incident and hit a one-month low on Monday. Its shares were 1.3 percent down at 17.78 euros. Qantas is down 4.9 percent since the incident. Airbus said last week that the problem with the Rolls-Royce engine could have an impact on its earnings and delivery target for 2011 but did not give details, and airlines contacted on Tuesday had no knowledge of delivery timetable changes.

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