Rolls-Royce 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 Rolls-Royce spokesman declined to provide the details of the new initiative when contacted by Aviation Week.

One of the problems Fokker has encountered is that some airlines have been shying away from the 70s and 100s, due to concerns about the cost of the Tay engine overhaul. Industry executives say it costs around $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 Rolls-Royce a check for millions of dollars for an engine overhaul, some operators have instead been scouring the market for engines that still have some flight hours left.

Western Australian carrier Skywest Airlines operates 10 Fokker 100s. “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. He says Skywest bought a Fokker 100 from French carrier Brit Air, flew it to Australia and then took the engines off and installed them on a Skywest Fokker 100.

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

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 Fokker 100s and two Fokker 70s, according to the Aviation Week Intelligence Network.

An executive with an aircraft lessor tells AviationWeek that his company stopped dealing in Fokker 100s 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 Fokker 100 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 would always ask what the maintenance reserve was on the Fokker 100, says the executive, adding that this was usually the deal-breaker when trying to place Fokker 100s. Instead airlines have been turning to newer types, with lower maintenance costs, such as the Embraer 190 and the Airbus A319, the executive says.