Airlines tackle Dreamliner nightmare
The West, 15 September 2018
Since late last year, airlines around the world have been dealing with problems with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Package C engines aboard some Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The engines have been affected by a “durability issue” in which compressor blades have been wearing prematurely. In June, it was reported that some older Package B engines were also affected.
It follows the previous discovery that turbine blades in some of the 787 engines were wearing faster than expected and required replacement — prompting, for example, Japan’s All Nippon Airways to announce in 2016 that it would replace all of the Rolls-Royce engines in its Dreamliner fleet.
The latest problem has required increased inspections on the affected engines, causing some airlines to cancel or reschedule flights and lease other aircraft to minimise schedule disruptions.
Air New Zealand has leased additional aircraft to operate flights to destinations including Perth, Sydney, Honolulu and Papeete.
The flights are operated by Air New Zealand pilots and crew, but certain amenities such as Economy Skycouch are not available.
The airline has also cancelled a number of flights between Perth and Auckland later this month and in October, and changed some flight times.
An Air New Zealand spokesperson says the airline has taken “a number of steps in order to minimise disruption to our schedule and therefore our customers, including re-timing some international flights, swapping out aircraft types on some routes and leasing long-haul aircraft from other suppliers to give us additional flexibility as we continue to manage through these issues”.
The spokesperson says the airline has been communicating with customers and travel agents regarding schedule changes.
According to information on the airline’s website, such changes will continue to affect some Air New Zealand services until at least March.
Other airlines that have been affected to a varying extent include Scoot, Thai Airways, South America’s LATAM Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and low-cost carrier Norwegian. For example, Thai Airways is advising of changes to flight schedules from October 28. Its Perth-Bangkok service will continue to operate daily but with an aircraft change to an A330.
The Air New Zealand spokesperson says “the final ‘fix’ for this issue relies on replacement blades being available from Rolls-Royce”.
In May, Rolls-Royce said it had accelerated development of this fix, and aimed “to have first parts available for engine overhaul in late 2018, rather than 2019 as originally planned”.