I wrote yesterday about the issues that ANA (All Nippon Airways) is having with their Trent 1000 engines for the 787 airplanes. ANA has found significant issues on the turbine blades of the Rolls Royce engines that they use for their Dreamliners. At the time, it wasn't clear that ANA would need to replace their entire fleet of engines.
ANA came back today and made it clear that they would in fact need to make that exact move. ANA will now be replacing every single engine in their fleet of fifty 787 aircraft, a total of 100 engines would need to be serviced. The scale of the replacement project is the reason that ANA anticipates the replacement to take 3 years.
To date, ANA has already had 3 in flight failures of the turbine blades, and a few others that have been discovered and repaired before an in flight mishap occured. 4 of their 787 aircraft have been grounded by the airline for safety reasons as they continue repairs on the faulty engines.
Rolls Royce still continues to downplay the situation though. As I had speculated yesterday this is a far larger problem than Rolls Royce intially and still tries to play this off as. The engine manufacturer is working on a turbine blade design change that will be implimented next year. In the mean time the faulty engines seem to still be in production.
Representatives for Rolls Royce have stated previously that the issue is solely with ANA. This is almost certainly not true, as the engines that ANA is replacing are from the entire production run of the 787 from the very first airplane to the latest delivery of airplane number 50 only a few months ago. Rolls Royce engines represent 40% of the engines flown on the 787 to date, likely presenting a widespread issue.
Rolls Royce has tried to blame part of the issue on what they say is ANA's "intensive" use of their engines. That is once again almost certainly not true, as ANA would not be operating airplanes any differently than any other airline other than the fact that their planes may be on shorter routes and see more takeoffs than other airlines. However, I'm flying a 787 on Qatar for a 45min flight in a month, that seems like a short route too. Of course I'm not curretly aware if Qatar used Rolls or GE engines on their 787's. Still, the engine should be designed to handle this, it is hardly a good reason for at least 7 known issues on ANA airplanes, 3 of those resulting in midair mishaps.
This very much reminds me of past aircraft issues and companies trying to downplay their roll in faulty equipment. We really don't know the full extent of the issue as details are still trickling out, but Rolls Royce should be more urgently making a change to engines. This may very well see some interventions from the FAA and EASA soon if the scale of the issue continues to expand as it seems to be doing.
We'll keep an eye on Rolls Royce and ANA to see how this progresses.