Rolls-Royce’s program to boost flexibility in supporting mature engines has landed its first official widebody customer, as Cathay Pacific will use the manufacturer’s TotalCare Flex program to support the Trent 800s that power 18 of its Boeing 777s.

                                                                       

“Rolls-Royce has listened carefully to our needs for managing this mature fleet reliably and cost-effectively,” Cathy Pacific Engineering Director Christopher Gibbs said. “We look forward to working closely with Rolls-Royce on the effective management of this fleet through the life of the agreement.”

The deal’s terms were not publicly released. 

Cathay’s Trent-powered 777 fleet averages about 16 years of age, including five aircraft that have been in service for more than 20 years, Aviation Week fleet data show. 

Rolls-Royce has been working to develop Flex, which leverages cost-saving strategies—such as used materials and engine-exchange programs—to broaden its support options for older engines. In mid-2014, United Airlines launched an early version of Flex for RB211-535s that power the carrier’s Boeing 757s. Rolls continued to develop the program, in part through a partnership with Lufthansa on the carrier’s Trent 500-powered Airbus A340s.

Rolls has long been the leader among engine manufacturers at capturing its own aftermarket work: About 90% of Trent engines go out the door with a long-term Total Care agreement attached. While some span the engine’s entire service life, most are 10-15-year agreements. The Flex program is expected to help Rolls capture a greater percentage of work on engines that have outflown their initial TotalCare agreements, and often a second-level agreement as well.

“There is always a second-tier opportunity, and we are typically contracting for between five and seven years for the second-tier operator of those aircraft,” Rolls-Royce President-Aerospace Tony Wood said at the company’s 2014 investor day.

After that, operators are often looking for engine lives that may be shorter than what a full overhaul provides, or they may be interested in offloading the engine before its newly overhauled useful life runs out. Flex is designed to help address such scenarios.

“This is about developing works copes which fundamentally work to a different horizon,” Rolls-Royce Senior Vice President-Customer Strategy & Marketing James Barry said at a conference earlier this year.

Flex joins a TotalCare lineup that includes Life, a beginning-to-end support offering, and Term, which provides support for a fixed amount of time. 

“The risk-transfer balance is changing,” Barry said. “One customer may want a Total Care Life or Term solution, while other customers may want something different that allows them to plan over a shorter horizon.”