ANA to Replace Some Rolls-Royce Engines on Boeing Dreamliners

  • Rolls Royce will take time to replace engine blades on 787s
  • ANA Dreamliner flight to Mumbai returns to Narita after issues

All Nippon Airways Co. (ANA) aircraft including a Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliner, right, taxi at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

ANA Holdings Inc. will have to replace some Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engines on its Boeing Co. Dreamliners, after issues with the power plants kept disrupting services at the world’s biggest operator of the 787 aircraft.

The Japanese carrier will prioritize replacement in some aircraft, while Rolls-Royce develops a version of the blades used in the power plants, ANA said in a statement in Tokyo on Tuesday. ANA, which canceled more than a dozen Dreamliner flights since last week, said on Monday it found broken turbines on three 787 widebodies with Rolls-Royce engines.

The Dreamliner, Boeing’s most-advanced carbon-fiber jet, has had its fair share of teething problems -- like in most new aircraft models -- since a two-year-late debut in 2011. In 2013, Boeing and regulators grounded the global Dreamliner fleet after lithium-ion batteries caught fire on two jets.

ANA warned last week it may have to scrap more than 300 trips through the end of September as it deals with cracking in the medium-pressure turbines of the Trent 1000 engines, before saying on Monday it won’t cancel any Dreamliner flights in the first half of September.

Increased Costs

The problems will likely lead to increased costs for Rolls-Royce, George Ferguson, a senior industry analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence wrote in a note on Monday. Most Rolls-Royce engines are covered by price-per-flight-hour maintenance contracts, meaning increased long-term cost is also borne by Rolls-Royce, Ferguson said.

The latest issue came to light after corrosion was found on the turbine blades that led to an aircraft having to shut down a power plant. Rolls-Royce is supposed to start supplying ANA with modified versions of the turbine blades from January and the carrier will replace the current blades in all its planes, ANA said last week.

ANA, which has been in talks with Rolls-Royce over the engines since March, operates almost a third of the global Dreamliners with Trent 1000 engines, according to a Morgan Stanley research report. The airline is talking to Rolls-Royce about the costs of replacing the turbines that power its 50 787 fleet by the end of 2019, a spokesman said.

Separately, an ANA Dreamliner to Mumbai had to return to Tokyo’s Narita airport on Tuesday after an engine signaled problems, spokeswoman Maho Ito said by phone. The airline said it hasn’t ascertained the cause.

“We are aware of the event and working with our customer to provide support and technical assistance,” Richard Wray, a Roll-Royce spokesman, said in an e-mail statement.