Rolls-Royce PLC presented a detailed summary of its efforts to address an outbreak of corrosion defects on its Trent 1000 Package C engines, problems which have forced some Boeing 787 Dreamliner operators to idle the aircraft. The efforts include tripling its maintenance capacity at several locations in the U.K., introducing a new inspection procedure, and increasing efforts to implement a permanent resolution to the issue.
Over the past two years, several Dreamliner operators have reported corrosion-related fatigue cracking with the Trent 1000 Package C engines’ intermediate-pressure turbine (IPT) blades, defects that may result in engine failure. The issue has led to increased rates of inspection (reducing the inspection interval from 200 flights to 80 flights), which adds to maintenance costs and reduces aircraft availability.
“We fully recognize the unacceptable levels of disruption our customers are facing,” stated Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, president for Civil Aerospace. “We are intensely focused on minimizing this and we have set our teams the challenge of doing everything we can to recover our customers’ operations as swiftly as possible.”
Rolls stated that since last month, when the European Aviation Safety Administration and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued an Airworthiness Directive mandating additional intermediate compressor inspections, it has tripled the number of engines its centers are able to work on at any time.
Further, it revealed that it has developed new, “lean workscope methods” that reduce the time an engine spends in maintenance, and it has opened new MRO lines in Singapore and in Heathrow and Derby, England, where the work is conducted. Plans to increase this capacity are being developed, it noted.
Rolls also noted it is accelerating development of a new Intermediate Pressure Compressor (IPC) rotor, a “permanent fix”, and will begin evaluating its effectiveness in a test engine early next month.
“We aim to have first parts available for engine overhaul in late 2018, rather than 2019 as originally planned,” Rolls-Royce stated.
Our engineering and design team has been able to accelerate the development of the new blade through a combination of the latest computing capability, ‘fast make’ competencies within our supply chain, and the development of a dedicated facility in Derby, UK, to build engines on which the blades will be tested.