Rolls Royce to Spend Hundreds of Millions to Repair Dreamliner Engines

The Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner rolls out at Boeing's manufacturing facility in North Charleston (Photo: Boeing)

On Wednesday, British engine manufacturer Rolls Royce announced that it will spend $315 million to move forward with the repairs of the Trent 1000 engines delivered to its customers. The engines currently power Boeing 787 Dreamliner model throughout the world across numerous airlines.

The amount of affected engines is around 440 engines among 220 aircraft. It is expected that the engines are going to be extremely and regularly vetted and replaced by newer engines when available, with an estimated date of completion by the end of 2022.

In a statement released on Wednesday, the company stated: “These issues have required urgent short-term support including both on-wing and shop visit intervention which has resulted in increased disruption for some of our customers. We’re making solid progress with longer-term solutions, largely through re-designing affected parts.”

Regarding airline operational disruptions, a part of the cost of repairs is dedicated to compensation for Rolls Royce customers affected by the issues. Some of the affected airlines are All Nippon Airways, Air New Zealand, Norwegian Air Shuttle and LATAM, who recently sent three of its two-year-old Dreamliners to Victorville Storage Area where the aircraft are going to be preserved until RR applies the retrofit.

Norwegian is expected to swap 42 of its 787s, and Air New Zealand has taken two Dreamliners out of operation, switching back to 777 for a number of long-haul routes, including Auckland-Buenos Aires service. For Norwegian, however, the Dreamliner is the only long-haul aircraft in the fleet, which will most likely lead to substitute aircraft being used by the low-cost airline.

After being impacted by Airworthiness Directives issued by both FAA and EASA, the maintenance costs for the engines saw a steep increase, as the availability decreased dramatically due to the mandatory inspections. Also hit by the Trent 900 engine issues are A380 customers. The total cost the manufacturer will have to face is about $1.2 billion for both engine types.

Boeing addressed the issue last December when Paul Bergman, spokesman for the aircraft builder, stated that “Boeing is working with Rolls Royce and the airlines to ensure the engine issues are addressed in a timely manner.”

It is unclear if the engine issues are going to affect future Dreamliner sales, as the model is winning orders without an observable impact. But, the financial cost that Rolls Royce is taking to retrofit the current engines, the cost of the redesign and the loss of confidence that can be translated to an alternative engine choice for the type, present a dark outlook for the engine manufacturer in the years to come.

Pablo Diaz

Pablo Diaz

Since a little kid, Pablo set his passions in order: aviation, soccer, and everything else. He has traveled to various destinations throughout South America, Asia, and Europe.

Technology and systems expert, occasional spotter, not-so-dynamic midfielder, blogger, husband, father of three cats; he believes that Latin America's aviation industry past, present, and future offer a lot of stories to be told.
Pablo Diaz