This is the story that keeps on going, no matter how much Rolls Royce, or any of the 12 airlines involved wish it would stop. Why should you care? Because your flights may get cancelled, trips may take longer and the Dreamliner plane you picked out for your big trip may change at the last minute to something old. The Federal Aviation Administration of the United States has issued new restrictive guidance for Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner customers using the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine – and things just got a whole lot more complicated.
On April 17th, the FAA issued guidance mandating that airlines flying the Trent 1000 engine must fly within 140 minutes of a safe diversion point. Translation: your plane must fly within three hours of somewhere it can land, at all times. This was in direct response to rising compressor and blade issues found with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines, chosen by many leading airlines. Let’s be clear: the issues have nothing to do with the Boeing 787 itself. The 787 Dreamliner has been a triumphant success for both airlines and passengers alike, but the Rolls Royce engine chosen by many airlines has been a catastrophe. It’s now one of the most problematic engines in aviation history, and will cost Rolls Royce over 1 billion in this year alone.
The FAA has now upped the ante in favor of passenger safety, declaring that certain Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines, fitted to Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft must now fly within 60 minutes of a safe diversion point, where a plane could potentially land. For many of these airlines with flights over oceans, this presents both a unique and costly problem. On certain routes, there just aren’t that many ways to fly across an ocean while staying within 60 minutes of a safe landing strip – at least not without going well out of your way. This not only burns more fuel costing airlines more money, but also adds to journey times for passengers. Nobody wants either.
12 leading airlines have been caught up in the melee of the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine saga. According to ch-aviation, airlines including Avianca, Air New Zealand, Air Europa, British Airways, Ethiopian, LATAM, LOT, Norwegian, Royal Brunei, Scoot and Virgin Atlantic have been forced to adapt to these Boeing 787-9 issues by re routing flights, leasing planes, refurbishing old planes or simply cancelling flights all together. For emerging international airlines such as Avianca and Norwegian, which invested heavily in these exciting new planes, the engine issues couldn’t come at a worse time.
Here’s the thing – there is no perfect fix. Airlines are scrambling to wet lease aircraft, refurb old planes and do anything possible to keep up current schedules in the face of mounting Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engine issues. These engines require frequent, time consuming safety inspections on the ground and even lengthier fixes from Rolls Royce. For now, if you’ve got a spare plane laying around, we may know an airline or two who’d be interested.