Turbulent skies for Boeing up ahead. Singapore Airlines is reportedly grounding a pair of Boeing planes in response to faulty engines.
The problem stems back to engine blades made by UK-based Rolls Royce and used in Boeing’s 787-10 Dreamliner aircraft, the Trent 1000 TEN. Meanwhile, the timing couldn’t be worse for Boeing. The Chicago-based jetliner maker continues to deal with the fallout from the grounding of its 737 MAX plane amid two separate crashes that call into question the safety of the aircraft.
Rolls Royce’s turbine blades were showing signs of too much wear and tear. In response, Singapore Airlines, which discovered the “premature blade deterioration” while performing a routine check on the engines, pulled the plug. Rolls Royce will overhaul the Trent 1000 engines with new blades. Singapore Airlines Group’s low-cost carrier partner Scoot will finish an inspection on Boeing’s 787-9 jet line by mid-week.
According to a statement by Rolls Royce cited in Reuters:
“Working with operators, we have been sampling a small population of the Trent 1000 TEN fleet that has flown in more arduous conditions. This work has shown that a small number of these engines need to have their blades replaced earlier than scheduled.”
Now the engine maker plans to:
“deliver an accelerated program to implement the enhanced blade and to ensure that we can deliver on our Trent 1000 TEN future commitments.”
The public trusts that “accelerated” does not translate into “rushed.”
The issue may lie with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 TEN rotor blade, but it’s become Boeing’s problem. Boeing’s Dreamliner jets use the Trent 1000 engines, which has exacerbated an already precarious situation for the plane manufacturer.
SilkAir, which is the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, suspended its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet from service in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, which triggered a wave of flight cancellations by Singapore Airlines in March and April.
The U.S. has similarly grounded all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft as the company implements software enhancements to the flight-control system, which have been linked to the two flight disasters.
Rolls Royce has suffered multiple “durability issues” with its Trent 1000 in which parts have worn out faster than they anticipated, leading to blade corrosion and cracking. The company says there are 300 Trent 1000 aircraft in service. As of February, several dozen Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes were reportedly grounded. Rolls Royce hopes to see that number dwindle to less than a dozen by year-end 2019.
Rolls Royce’s problems with the Trent engine go back three years. This has reportedly led to more than $1 billion in accounting charges and cost the company turbine blade market share to chief competitor General Electric. Regulators have already intervened, at times placing a cap on the distance that the Trent engine-equipped planes were allowed to fly. Meanwhile, Boeing’s chief rival Airbus uses the customized Trent 7000 engine in its Airbus A330neo.
The Singapore Airlines/Boeing setback occurred days after the U.S. airline industry suffered a technical glitch that led to massive outages.