Rolls Royce plagued by Trent 1000 compressor durability issues

Rolls Royce had a bunch of teething problems with the Trent 900 (for the Airbus 380) which seem to have been largely fixed though they spent at least $300 million to replace faulty engines. Maintenance costs are turning out much higher than anticipated.

The Trent 1000 for the Dreamliner however has been plagued by issues through its entire design and testing cycle (and a prototype engine even exploded on its test bed in 2010). Both the Dreamliner and the Trent 1000 took much longer to reach the production stage than anticipated and the development programmes were under severe pressure to fix problems as they occurred. Certainly some long-term issues would have been pushed back to be fixed at a later time (fingers crossed). Two years ago ANA replaced all 100 Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines on its Dreamliners.  At that time it was cracking and corrosion of turbine blades. Now it seems to be “durability issues” in the IP compressor.

This Trent 1000 “fix” could be much more expensive for Rolls Royce than the Trent 900 fixes. According to the FT, “Existing issues will already cost the group some £750m up to 2019 and potentially a further £200m after that.”


Rolls-Royce has identified another durability issue in its Trent 1000 series engines, this time involving the intermediate pressure compressor in the Package B version. The variant has flown in service on Boeing 787s since 2012 and consists of 166 engines. The engine company said it has agreed with regulatory authorities to carry out a one-time inspection of the Package B fleet to “further inform” its understanding of the problem.

Rolls added that it expects the European Aviation Safety Agency to issue an airworthiness directive in “the coming days,” resulting in “limited impact” on customer operations.

“We are committed to eliminating this intermediate pressure compressor [IPC] durability issue from the Trent 1000 fleet and we have already successfully run a redesigned Package C IPC in a development engine,” said Rolls-Royce in a June 11 statement. “As a precautionary measure we have also launched a redesign of the relevant part in the Package B engine as well as in the Trent 1000 Ten engine, where, although currently a young fleet, we have not seen any examples of reduced IPC durability.” 

In April Rolls-Royce advised operators that its Trent 1000 Package C engine would require more inspections than previously planned to address premature wear of compressor blades, a problem that first came to light in 2016. The company reported that it had delivered 380 Package C engines, powering some 25 percent of all Boeing 787s in service. The majority passed inspection and therefore continues to fly, according to a Rolls-Royce spokesman who declined to enumerate “majority.”

The UK aero-engine company said in late May that it would accelerate the development of the permanent fix to the IPC rotor issue on Package C engines and that it had installed a revised compressor blade in an engine scheduled for testing this month. “We aim to have first parts available for engine overhaul in late 2018, rather than 2019 as originally planned,” Rolls-Royce civil aerospace president Chris Cholerton said.

Rolls also said it had begun speeding the development of the new blade and a dedicated facility in Derby to build engines on which it will test it. It also developed new on-wing inspection techniques to support airlines in meeting the requirements of the airworthiness directives “as quickly and efficiently as possible,” it said. 

Cholerton admitted Rolls-Royce expects the number of aircraft affected “to rise in the short term, as the deadline for the completion of initial inspections approaches,” though it remains tight-lipped on the actual numbers. “We are not confirming number of aircraft grounded,” the spokesman said.

slide – Rolls Royce


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