Rolls-Royce: Trent 1000 TEN Fix On Track For Mid-2021

Credit: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce remains on track to roll out upgraded Trent 1000 TEN high-pressure compressor turbine (HPT) blades around mid-2021 and does not expect to see any more unplanned Boeing 787 groundings linked to the issue or other identified problems with the engines.

“We have continued with the development work on the final fix for the HPT blade on the Trent 1000 TEN, and we remain on track to start installing that by the middle of next year,” CEO Warren East said during a Dec. 11 investor-update call. 

The original HPT blades entered service with a limit of 1,000 cycles, with some needing to be swapped out even sooner. Rolls pledged to develop a more durable blade, but the work was delayed, with the company announcing in late 2019 that mid-2021 was the revised target for rolling it out.

The Trent 1000 TEN HPT issue is the last of a series of durability and reliability problems that has vexed the Trent 1000 fleet, causing several years of disruptions for 787 operators. The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic helped the company catch up on needed maintenance, eliminating unplanned 787 groundings that peaked in 2018 at more than 50.

Heading into 2020, the company’s goal was to get the total number of grounded, Trent-powered 787s into single digits by mid-year. But the dip in demand has seen both the average utilization of in-service 787s drop and the number of them flying reduced. Aviation Week Intelligence Network Fleet and Data Services shows that 115 Rolls-powered 787s were in storage on Dec. 1—about 30% of the 360 in service. Another 26 were in a parked/reserve status, meaning they operated on just one or two of the previous seven days.

The reduction in flying that followed the pandemic’s rise in the first half of 2020 helped Rolls wipe out the backlog of engine maintenance-related 787 groundings completely by July, the company said. The continued demand slump and related reduction in 787 operations has allowed Rolls to get ahead on spare-parts production, creating a buffer that should carry it through until the new blades are ready.

“During the year, we have built sufficient spare engine capacity such that even if all those [787] Dreamliners took to the air again tomorrow, we would be fine to maintain that zero-aircraft-on-ground position,” East said.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.