ANA Holdings Inc., the world’s biggest operator of Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner jet, is canceling flights as it checks the Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC engines on its fleet for corrosion.
The airline, with a fleet of 50 Dreamliners, canceled nine flights using the aircraft Friday and may have to scrap more than 300 through the end of September, Takeo Kikuchi, a deputy senior vice president of engineering and maintenance, told reporters Thursday in Tokyo. ANA is replacing medium pressure turbine blades on the planes, Kikuchi said.
The 787-related flight cancellations are the largest for ANA since 2013, when Boeing and regulators grounded the global Dreamliner fleet while fixing a fire issue with the plane’s lithium-ion battery. About 38 percent of the 787s in service are powered by Rolls-Royce’s Trent 1000 turbines, while the rest are outfitted with General Electric Co. engines.
The latest issue came to the fore as ANA investigated why a 787 engine overheated during a February flight. That jet returned to Kuala Lumpur airport after receiving a warning that the temperature of the exhaust gas from its right engine was very high. ANA has encountered the issue of corrosion in turbine blades three times since February, Kikuchi said.
Rolls-Royce and Boeing said they are working with the airline to minimize the impact on flights.
“In terms of any requirement to take additional action, this issue is limited to a small proportion of the ANA fleet,” a Rolls-Royce spokesman said in response to questions about whether other airlines’ fleets may be affected. “We are aware of the situation and are working closely with ANA to minimize the effect of aircraft service disruption.”
The European Aviation Safety Agency is “considering” releasing a service bulletin recommending action from carriers in Europe, a spokeswoman said by email, adding that “there are discussions going on.”
ANA has been in talks with Rolls-Royce on issues with the engines since March, Kikuchi said Thursday. The airline, which was the initial customer for the 787 in 2011, operates almost a third of the Dreamliners globally that fly with Trent 1000 engines, according to a Morgan Stanley research report.
This is not the first time corrosion has been found in the Rolls-Royce power plants. The issue cropped up in the Trent 1000 gearboxes in 2012 and was quickly resolved, Jaime Rowbotham, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a note to clients Thursday.
ANA has had three issues with the engines that have affected flights, Kikuchi said, adding that it expects to lose ¥55 million from tomorrow’s cancellations. The company does not know the total financial impact at this time, he said.
Despite its early, headline-grabbing struggles, the 787 has evolved into one of the most dependable planes in service, with a dispatch reliability of more than 99 percent, according to Boeing.
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