Posts Tagged ‘Rolls Royce’

Rolls Royce plagued by Trent 1000 compressor durability issues

June 14, 2018

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


ANA to replace all 100 Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines on its Dreamliners

September 1, 2016

An in-flight, uncontained, engine failure not only trashes that particular engine, but can also send shrapnel into potentially vulnerable areas of the aircraft (wing fuel tanks for example). The aircraft may still be able to fly without that engine but the effects of shrapnel are potentially lethal.

Rolls Royce had its share of teething problems with its Trent 900 engine for the Airbus A380 (Trent 900 failures) and had to spend at least $300 million to replace faulty engines. There are only two engines from two manufacturers available for the A380 (Trent 900 from Rolls Royce and the GP7200 from the Engine Alliance – a 50/50 JV between GE and Pratt & Whitney), and competition is limited. Whereas the A380 has 4 turbofan engines, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner has only two. Again competition is limited between Rolls Royce’s Trent 1000 and GE’s GenX.

But the Trent 1000 is having erosion/corrosion problems which are causing blades to crack. Blade failure is particularly nasty since the entire engine downstream of the failure can be easily wiped out. Worse, a broken blade or its fragments travel at high speed and can be ejected through the engine casing creating the “uncontained failure”. Vibration induced failures usually show up relatively quickly but corrosion/erosion induced failures can take a few thousand hours of operation to show up. In any event, the Japanese airline ANA has five affected engines but is replacing all 100 engines on its 50 aircraft.

The Guardian:The Japanese airline ANA has said it will replace all 100 Rolls-Royce engines on its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners after three engine failures in 2016 caused by corrosion and cracking of turbine blades.

The world’s largest 787 operator said all 50 of its 787s would receive engines fitted with new blades, a process that could take up to three years.

ANA had five engines that currently needed repairs “but we will replace all the 100 engines for enhanced safety measures”, the company said, adding that it had already repaired three engines.

Rolls Royce leads Finnish project to develop autonomous (drone) ships

August 8, 2015

After flying drones and the coming of driverless cars it is the turn of autonomous ships. The Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (Tekes) is funding an €6.6 million project called the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative, which Rolls-Royce has been appointed to lead. The project aims to produce the specification and preliminary designs for the next generation of advanced ship solutions – the unmanned, “drone” cargo ship.

drone ship 1 Rolls Royce

drone ship 1 Rolls Royce

RR Press Release:

…… The project will run until the end of 2017 and will pave the way for solutions – designed to validate the project’s research. The project will combine the expertise of some of Finland’s top academic researchers from Tampere University of Technology; VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd; Åbo Akademi University; Aalto University; the University of Turku; and leading members of the maritime cluster including Rolls-Royce, NAPA, Deltamarin, DNV GL and Inmarsat.

Rauli Hulkkonen, Tekes, Chief Advisor, said: “This project is a fantastic opportunity to establish the Finnish maritime cluster as the world leader in maritime remote control technology.

Esa Jokioinen, Rolls-Royce, Head of Blue Ocean Team, said: “Rolls-Royce has extensive experience of successfully coordinating multi-disciplinary teams developing complex technologies. We bring a world leading range of capabilities in the marine market to the project including vessel design, the integration of complex systems and the supply and support of power and propulsion equipment. We are excited to be taking the first concrete steps towards making remote controlled and autonomous ship applications a reality. 

The wide ranging project will look at research carried out to date before exploring the business case for autonomous applications, the safety and security implications of designing and operating remotely operated ships, the legal and regulatory implications and the existence and readiness of a supplier network able to deliver commercially applicable products in the short to medium term. The technological work stream, which will be led by Rolls-Royce, will encompass the implications of  remote control and autonomy of ships for propulsion, deck machinery and automation and control, using, where possible, established technology for rapid commercialisation.

The Rolls-Royce Blue Ocean team is responsible for research and development of future maritime technologies and focuses on disruptive game-changing innovations. By combining new technologies with new approaches to ship design and system integration, the team aims to reduce operational costs, minimise emissions and enhance the earning capability of vessels. The team has developed a range of autonomous ship concepts as well as innovative designs for various ship types.

An autonomous tanker -- image rolls royce

An autonomous tanker — image rolls royce

Robot ships are currently illegal and the whole maritime regulatory environment would need to be changed to suit. If driverless cars become a reality by 2020, then there is no reason why robot fleets of cargo ships could not be in use by 2030. Bureaucracy will probably be a bigger barrier than technology.

robot fleet image rolls royce

robot fleet image rolls royce

Rolls Royce profits down 76% as Trent 900 costs start to kick in

February 10, 2011

BBC reports:

Manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce has said the mid-air failure of one of its Trent 900 engines on a Qantas superjumbo had led to costs of £56m. The explosion in the engine forced an emergency landing of the A380 in November last year. The one-off cost contributed to annual pre-tax profits dropping 76% to £702m in 2010 from £2.96bn. Foreign exchange costs and interest rate and fuel hedging contracts also contributed to the profit fall.

But the Derby-based company said that underlying pre-tax profits – which strip out one-off costs – were up by 4% to £955m in 2010 and were a better indication of its performance.

Rolls Royce say that the may face further “modest costs” but this seems to be far too optimistic considering that all the engine servicing costs have yet to show up and all the various compensation claims from Qantas, Airbus, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airline will take some time to work their way through. Once all the claims are presented there is an even chance that some will need arbitration before settlement which will take some time.

Jorn Madslien also writes:

Investors will be scrutinising Rolls-Royce’s financial figures to try to find out how the recent engine failure that led to the grounding of six Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft affected the company. ……..

….. The long-term effects of the engine failure, for instance a potential fall in new orders over the months and years ahead, cannot be measured at this stage. Consequently, the final impact on the company’s bottom line is not yet known.

It does not seem as if Rolls Royce have made any provision for further costs which is a little worrying and I stay with my estimate of around $300 million as the total hit that Rolls will have to swallow for the Trent 900 for the A380 in addition to any impact on engine sales.

Judging from the delays the development cost of the Trent 1000 for the Dreamliner is also likely to be significantly more than budgeted or expected.

It will be at least 2012 before the full financial impact is known though some residual impacts will continue for many years.

The wrecked engine after QF32 landed in Singapore in Nov. 2010:Photo: AFP

Once again: Qantas + RR engine + B747 = return to base

January 26, 2011

The Rolls Royce Engine Syndrome (RES) strikes again.

This time – one very thirsty engine


Another drama ... A Qantas 747 was forced to return to Bangkok yesterday. image:

Flight QF2 carrying 352 passengers was about 30 minutes into its flight from Bangkok International Airport when one of its engines began “consuming fuel more quickly than normal” a Qantas spokesman said.
It was forced to return to Bangkok where it landed safely about 7pm local time (11pm AEST). Affected passengers are expected to spend a second night in temporary accommodation with Qantas scrambling to send a replacement engine from Sydney for the troubled Boeing 747 today.
“As far as possible we will try and get passengers who need to return to Sydney urgently on other flights but that will be dependent on availability on other airlines,” the spokesman said.

“It was not actually an engine failure, (the pilots) did not shut the engine down they just reduced the thrust.” However one passenger on the flight says the engine “blew”.

The spokesman said there were no other replacement Qantas aircraft available in Bangkok.

Read more:

Qantas A380 flights to LA to restart on 17th January

January 5, 2011

While Qantas had restarted flying its A380 aircraft with Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines on  27th November after the engine failure on 4th November, its flights to Los Angeles remained grounded since the engines had not been cleared for operating at the higher thrust levels necessary for reaching LA.

Reuters reports that flights to LA could now resume on 17th January:

Qantas said on Wednesday it hoped to resume normal A380 operations from January 17 but it would still need the go-ahead from Australia’s aviation regulator before flying the superjumbo aircraft on the lucrative route……. Qantas said on Wednesday it expected to have eight A380 aircraft in the air by early February, up from five currently. The airline is scheduled to take delivery of a new A380 aircraft in mid-January and another new aircraft by early February. A third A380 currently grounded in Sydney was also due to be operating by mid-January……. Analysts estimate damages to Qantas could reach $60 million, although forecasts vary. The LA route is one of Qantas’ most profitable.

For Rolls Royce, getting Qantas back to full operation is critical to bringing this chapter to a close and to limiting at least one part of the inevitable claims that will come. They will also face claims from Airbus who announced a few days ago that they would only deliver 18 A380’s during 2010 and would not reach their already reduced target of 20 planes. This delay is put down to the extra inspections caused by the fault in Rolls Royce engines. No doubt Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa will also have claims on Rolls Royce. I still estimate that the total costs to Rolls Royce will reach $300 million.

EASA eases safety inspections for A380’s Trent 900 engines

December 22, 2010

From the WSJ:


Agence France-Presse/Getty Images The damaged Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine and wing section from a Qantas Airways Airbus A380.

European aviation regulators on Tuesday substantially relaxed tight inspection rules covering Rolls-Royce Group PLC engines on Airbus A380 superjumbo jetliners, signaling that safety concerns about the planes are fading. The European Aviation Safety Agency, dropping emergency mandates to inspect Trent 900 engines after every 20 flights, moved to require repetitive inspections of most of the engines after 100 flights. The change is likely to reduce disruption of flight schedules, according to industry officials.

EASA’s move follows intensive inspections of Trent 900s on A380s operated by Qantas, Singapore Airlines Ltd. and Deutsche Lufthansa AG. In its latest directive, the agency said a review of manufacturing and inspection data convinced safety officials that many “lower risk” tubes are less prone to fracture and therefore don’t need such frequent checks.

Lifting the emergency directives so quickly, particularly after such a high-profile and dangerous event, indicates much of the fleet is unaffected by oil-system manufacturing defects.

To further assure the safety of Rolls-Royce-powered A380 jets, European regulators previously also ordered upgrades of Trent 900 electrical systems to prevent engine parts from turning dangerously fast, a condition that can lead to disintegration of spinning disks. Those enhancements already have been incorporated into the A380 fleet.

Problems caused by a manufacturing defect on an oil-supply tube have been blamed for the explosive failure of a relatively new Trent engine on the Qantas jet shortly after takeoff from Singapore. The fault has been found on the current fleet as well as at least one new plane slated for delivery to Qantas, according to industry officials. But on Tuesday, EASA for the first time specifically defined what it considers to be an acceptable minimum thickness for the walls of the tubes.

EASA’s decision also is good news for Qantas and the other carriers that fly A380s with Rolls-Royce engines because those airlines have been concerned about potential schedule disruptions and longer required layovers to accomplish the inspections.


Australian Transport Safety Bureau report: The Trent 900 engine blew out after the Qantas A380 took off from Singapore on Nov. 4.

It would seem that the initial failings of the Trent 900 have now been found and are being rectified. But it needs a few more months of operation before it can be said that all the “teething” problems of the Trent 900 have been identified and resolved. The costs for the fix – mainly to be borne by Rolls Royce – have still to be added up and will not be finally clear for a few more months.

EASA had also relaxed inspection requirements before the explosion on the Qantas A380 probably in response to representations by the engine manufacturer and /or the airlines. One hopes that their decision to relax inspections this time is not just in response to pressure.

Qantas prepares for legal action against Rolls Royce

December 2, 2010

The Trent 900 fix is not going to be cheap for Rolls Royce. I am still maintaining my estimate that the total cost for the engine manufacturer will be in excess of $300 M.

The Wall Street Journal:

Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd. Thursday said it has taken measures that would allow litigation against Rolls-Royce Group PLC  if it fails to reach a commercial settlement over the recent failure of a Trent 900 engine powering one of its A380 super jumbos. Qantas confirmed in a statement it is in talks with Rolls Royce over the “financial and operational impacts” of the engine failure.

Also Thursday, the international carrier said it plans fresh inspections on the Trent 900 engines after Australian safety regulators said they have identified a possible manufacturing flaw.

Qantas was forced to ground its fleet of six A380s last month after an engine on board flight QF32 exploded above Batam Island, Indonesia shortly after the airplane took off from Singapore, en route to Australia on November 4. Two of the mega airliners have since returned to service.

The explosion has put U.K., Derby-based Rolls-Royce engines under the microscope as airlines around the world that operate the Airbus A380 run a raft of safety tests. Airbus is a division of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

A statement of claim has been filed by Qantas and an injunction by the Federal Court of Australia granted, ensuring the carrier can pursue legal action if settlement does not emerge, it said in a statement.

Australian safety investigators now believe the cause of the November mid-air drama may have been a manufacturing defect with an oil tube connection on some Trent 900 engines. That problem could cause oil leakage, cracking and possible engine failure from an oil fire, the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau said Thursday.

“The safety recommendation of the ATSB is consistent with what we have said before. We have instituted a regime of inspection, maintenance and removal which has assured safe operation. This programme has been agreed in collaboration with Airbus, our airline customers and the regulators,” a Rolls-Royce spokesman said.

Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and even Airbus (EADS) can have claims on Rolls Royce and all may well have to resort to legal action to reach settlements. Qantas and Airbus have the greatest potential claims. Whether Rolls Royce knew about defects in advance of the accident on QF32 will be a key issue to determine if the engines delivered by Rolls Royce were actually “fit for service”. If the engines were not “fit for service” it opens the door to an even greater levels of claims on Rolls Royce.

Qantas to fly one A380 again on Saturday, Rolls Royce may limit Trent 900 thrust

November 23, 2010

Qantas will have one A380 ready to fly again on Saturday 27th, 23 days after the engine explosion on QF32. Bloomberg reports:

Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce will be on the first flight, which will go to London from Sydney via Singapore, he said at a media briefing today. The carrier will conduct further inspections with Airbus, regulators and engine-maker Rolls-Royce Group Plc before resuming other routes, it said in a statement.

The carrier will have four 450-seat A380s in service before Dec. 25, including two new ones, Joyce said. The airline is also due to receive two superjumbos next year. Joyce said it is too early to estimate the cost of the disruption caused by grounding the A380s or to comment on whether the carrier will seek compensation.

The Financial Times reports that Rolls Royce are likely to restrict the operating regime of the Trent 900 by limiting the maximum thrust that can be used,

Reports in Australia said Rolls-Royce was about to impose new guidelines on users of its Trent 900 engines stipulating that they cannot be operated at above 70,000 pounds of thrust.

Downgrading thrust to 70,000 pounds would knock out Qantas’s A380 services from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles, a worrying development for the Australian airline that dominates the Pacific route.

“72,000 pounds of thrust is needed for the Pacific route,” a Qantas spokesman said. The airline would not comment on reports that at 70,000 pounds of thrust, Qantas A380s would be forced to fly to Los Angeles less than half full. It said the voluntary suspension on the Pacific route remains “until further operational experience is gained or possible additional changes are made to engines”.

“Pilots still have access to maximum certified thrust [of 72,000 pounds] if they require it during flight. It is not a manufacturer’s directive,” the company added.

Rolls Royce shares, time to sell? Trent 900 hit will last at least 18 months

November 22, 2010

In the first half of 2010 Rolls Royce had revenues of £5.421 billion with a PBT of £465 million (8.6%) of revenues. Cash position was strong with net cash for the period at £915 million. But it looks less impressive considering the order backlog of £58.4 billion. How much of the net cash was due to order down-payments is not clear. Orders received during the period were £5.9 billion (and backlog was virtually unchanged) and this would have provided net cash of around £550 million. So operating cash flow (excluding financial posts) was probably only £350 million.

The Trent 900 debacle will probably eat up at least £200 million – and perhaps more – over the next 12 -18 months. The immediate effect will also be the loss of some expected orders and 22 A380s – bought by Qatar Airways, Kingfisher, Etihad and Air Austral – are yet to decide whether to use the Trent 900 or the rival GP7200 made by the GE / Pratt & Whitney Alliance. Any loss of market share will be difficult to recover. To sell the 100 additional engines that will be needed to recover the costs of this fix will take a few years. Even though all the costs will not be incurred in this quarter, some significant provision will have to be made this year (and it will be a real warning sign if such provision is not made).

The financial and technological position of Rolls Royce is strong and they should be able to make the fix and weather the storm. But profits will be hit hard for at least the next 12 months and perhaps even longer if Trent 900 sales suffer or if the Trent 1000 is further delayed.

Until the Trent 1000 is established in the Dreamliner (which depends on the Boeing 787 coming into service through next year), Rolls Royce share value is capped and with a big downside. It is perhaps time to sell and it could be time to re-enter in about 12 months if some of the major uncertainties are resolved by then.


ROLLS-ROYCE Share Graph:


%d bloggers like this: