Rolls-Royce says extra plane engine checks will drive up costs

The company makes engines for jets

The company makes engines for jets

Rolls-Royce has warned that it needs to carry out more frequent inspections of its Trent 1000 aircraft engines, raising the prospect of disruption for airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic and resulting in higher costs for the company.

Problems with engine turbine blades wearing out sooner than expected have hampered a restructuring programme prompted by the engineering company's declining older engine programmes and plunging demand for oil equipment.

This effectively curtails operations across oceans or remote areas. "We are reprioritising various items of discretionary spend to mitigate these incremental cash costs".

Airlines operating some of the engines have been ordered by global safety regulators to carry out more regular checks on them, meaning they will be grounded much more frequently for maintenance.

"The increased inspection frequency is driven by our further understanding of the durability of the Trent 1000 Package C compressor, a condition that we highlighted earlier this year", the company said, adding that there are 380 Package C engines now in-service with airlines.

Shares in Rolls, one of the biggest names in British manufacturing, were down 1 per cent at 1053 GMT. The Civil Aerospace segment provides commercial aero engines, such as airlines, business aviation, and helicopter engines for various sectors of the airline and corporate jet markets, as well as aftermarket services.

About 25 percent of the 787 Dreamliner fleet is powered by this Rolls-Royce engine variant.

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But there could be worse to come for operators of the affected engines.

The need to inspect and fix Trent 1000 engines has led to an industry-wide shortage.

"We will be working closely with Boeing and affected airlines to minimise disruption wherever possible", Chief Executive Warren East said.

This check was already required prior to the engine reaching a flying threshold of 2000 cycles (one way journeys).

"We have an ongoing dialogue with both Boeing and Rolls-Royce and we have been told this problem has their full attention".

A Virgin spokeswoman said it had been aware of the increased inspections announced on Friday and that the cover it had in place would be sufficient. Rolls-Royce advises 380 engines globally are impacted by the directive, including nine in the Air New Zealand 787 fleet.

In March, Rolls said the cash hit from the problem should hit a peak of £340 million in 2018 before falling in 2019.

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