Rolls-Royce Pausing Operations In UK As COVID-19 Encroaches

Boeing 787
Credit: Dave Sizer

LONDON—Aero-engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce is pausing engineering and production operations at its UK facilities as it works to mitigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company’s commercial aero engines business will be primarily impacted by the weeklong shutdown which begins March 27, the company said, making the decision to “significantly reduce all but essential activity.”

Rolls-Royce said the halt will allow it to modify its operations in line with UK government guidelines, particularly in terms of “social distancing,” the term used to describe the proximity between workers.

Rolls-Royce says such changes will allow the OEM to “sustain modified operations and activities over a longer period” and allow it to support its customers and services for airline and air freight operations.

“During this time, we will continue to maintain our critical capability that ensures airlines can continue to operate,” an email statement said.

Work to reduce the number of Boeing 787s grounded by issues with the company’s Trent 1000 is also continuing, with Rolls-Royce aiming to reduce the number of impacted aircraft to single-digits by the second half of the year.

The company said it will update the market if it believes the coronavirus crisis will have an impact on these timescales.

Defense work is continuing, as Rolls-Royce noted that it has been designated a key supplier for UK defense activities and is supporting engines that power military aircraft, naval vessels and other vehicles that are being used in relief efforts. 

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.