Rolls-Royce Group Plc will inspect and fix all of its engines used on Airbus SAS A380 superjumbo planes by the end of 2011, after a faulty part caused a blowout on a flight and forced airlines to ground jets.
“In about a year’s time, all of the necessary components will be in place and this will all be behind us,” Chief Financial Officer Andrew Shilston told investors yesterday at the Credit Suisse Aerospace & Defense Conference in New York.
The fix to the Trent 900 turbine involves replacing “a small component inside the engine that’s not costly” Shilston said in an interview afterward, declining to offer further details. The company will shorten the recommended length of time that the part is used before it’s replaced, he said.
Qantas Airways Ltd. is gradually reintroducing flights on its fleet of six A380s, which was grounded for more than three weeks after a Trent 900 engine exploded over Indonesia on Nov. 4, forcing an emergency return to Singapore. The A380, powered by four engines, is the world’s largest passenger jet, seating more than 500 people. Airbus has delivered 38 since 2007, and there are 21 in service using Rolls-Royce turbines.
Analysts’ estimates that Trent 900 repairs will cost about 50 million pounds ($78 million) are “about” accurate for 2010, Shilston said. The bulk of the expenses will be incurred this year, though there may be some in 2011 as well, he said. That figure includes the cost for maintenance and replacement of the components as well as penalty payments to airlines, he said.
Rolls-Royce rose 9.5 pence to 618.5 pence yesterday in London trading. The shares have gained 31 percent this year.
The London-based engine maker is “joined at the hip” with Boeing Co. to get its Trent 1000 engine ready in time for the 787 Dreamliner to enter service next year, with no rework required afterward, Shilston said.
Boeing blamed Rolls-Royce for the last delay to its new composite-plastic jet, after an engine blew up during a test in August, damaging the testing facility and pushing the plane’s entry into service back by a quarter, into 2011. Chicago-based Boeing is revising the 787’s schedule for a seventh time as it redesigns part of the electrical system because of a fire during a test flight last month.
The problems with the Trent 900 engines used on the A380 and the Trent 1000 turbines used on the Dreamliner “are completely unconnected,” Shilston said. “They do not in any way represent a systematic failure of our design technology.”
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