Thursday, May 31, 2018

News: Innovative thinking to address Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 issues

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World-renowned engineering firm, Rolls-Royce has given an update on the problems with its Trent 1000 engines which is causing disruption for its customers, notably Boeing.

Rolls-Royce has increased maintenance capacity for affected engines, introduced a new inspection technique and the accelerated a permanent fix for the issue.

Rothbiz reported in April that further engine checks were taking place after the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ordered airlines to replace some Trent 1000 engines on their aircraft.

Corrosion-related fatigue cracking was discovered on IP blades in 2016. It was announced that the manufacturer would have to replace turbine blades on the entire fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners powered by its Trent 1000 engine.

The Trent engines include key components manufactured by Rolls-Royce in Rotherham. The most advanced turbine blade casting facility in the world was officially opened on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham in 2014. There are two types of turbine blade manufactured at the 150,000 sq ft facility: high pressure (HP) and intermediate pressure (IP) single crystal blades.

Chris Cholerton, president – civil aerospace at Rolls-Royce, said: "We fully recognise the unacceptable levels of disruption our customers are facing. We are intensely focused on minimising this and we have set our teams the challenge of doing everything we can to recover our customers' operations as swiftly as possible. We are drawing on the full resources of Rolls-Royce to address the issue and I’ve seen great teamwork and innovative thinking both across our organisation and in our partnership with Boeing."

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Rolls-Royce has trebled the number of affected engines it can work on at any point through the development of lean workscope methods, reducing the amount of time that an engine spends in maintenance. The majority of work takes place in facilities in Singapore, Heathrow and Derby and plans to further increase this capacity are being developed.

A permanent fix to the IP compressor rotor issue seen on Package C engines is also being developed. The revised compressor blade has been installed in a test engine and will begin testing in early June. Rolls-Royce aim to have first parts available for engine overhaul in late 2018, rather than 2019 as originally planned.

The engineering and design team has been able to accelerate the development of the new blade through a combination of the latest computing capability, "fast make" competencies within the supply chain, and the development of a dedicated facility in Derby to build engines on which the blades will be tested.

Cholerton added: "While we have made important progress in supporting our customers, there is clearly more to do and we will not rest until we have ensured the engine meets the high standards our customers rightly expect.

"Our teams remain focused on the task in hand and while we expect the number of aircraft affected to rise in the short term, as the deadline for the completion of initial inspections approaches, we are confident that we have the right building blocks in place to tackle the additional workload this will create."

In April Rolls-Royce said it would reprioritise spending to mitigate the costs and kept its 2018 free cash flow guidance unchanged at about £450m.

Rolls-Royce website

Images: Rolls-Royce

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