Rolls-Royce (R-R) is introducing a new program for Fokker 70s and Fokker 100s that promises to decrease overhaul costs for their Tay engines.

“Rolls-Royce is working on a dedicated program to reduce the cost of the heavy checks for the Tay engine,” a Fokker spokesman says. “More detail than that cannot be provided due to the fact Rolls-Royce first needs to inform our operators.” A R-R spokesman declined to provide the details of the new initiative when contacted by Aviation Week.

Fokker has found that some airlines have been avoiding the F70s and F100s, due to concerns about the cost of the Tay engine overhaul.

Industry executives say it costs about $2 million to overhaul one Tay engine, and it can be as much as $2.5 million if many life-limited parts are due for replacement. Rather than write R-R a check for millions of dollars for an engine overhaul, some operators instead have been scouring the market for engines that still have some flight hours left.

Western Australian carrier Skywest Airlines operates 10 F100s. “The cost of the overhaul is prohibitive to operators, and this causes operators to buy aircraft for their engines if the engines have reasonable life left and are not long out of a shop visit,” says Wayne O’Meara, the carrier’s technical services manager.

O’Meara says Skywest bought a F100 from French carrier Brit Air, flew it to Australia and then took the engines off and installed them on a Skywest F100.

Industry sources say the new R-R program for Tay engines will be a Total Care arrangement in which maintenance costs will be calculated per flight hour. One of the sources says R-R has been developing the cost and format of the new program using one operator as a pilot. Once R-R completes the pilot, it will roll out the program offer to all operators, adds the source.

The managing director of Australian charter operator Alliance Air, Scott McMillan, confirms that his airline is the operator in the pilot program. Alliance operates 12 F100s and two F70s, according to the Aviation Week Intelligence Network fleet database.

An executive with an aircraft lessor tells Aviation Week that his company stopped dealing in F100s because “the aircraft were becoming too expensive and, to be honest, the number of Fokker 100 operators was dwindling. A lot of the costs have to do with the maintenance, and the biggest chunk of that maintenance cost is the engines.”

The fact that the F100 can be bought at “very reasonable prices” means that an aircraft lessor can offer a very competitive monthly lease rate for the aircraft, says the executive. But with the expensive engine overhaul, it means the leasing company has to charge a high maintenance reserve, he says.

Operators always ask what the maintenance reserve is on the F100, says the executive, adding that the type is usually the deal-breaker when trying to place F100s. Instead, airlines have been turning to newer aircraft, with lower maintenance costs, such as the Embraer 190 and the Airbus A319, the executive says.