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Rolls-Royce Details Program to Replace Engine Parts

Monday, June 4, 2018

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To address corrosion defects on Trent 1000 Package C engines that have kept some Boeing 787 Dreamliners grounded, Rolls-Royce recently released a multipronged plan that includes an updated inspection procedure and tripling its maintenance capacity in some U.K. locations.

Problems began to surface with the Trent 1000 in early 2016, when issues were reported with cracking on engine turbines on Dreamliners operated by Japanese carrier ANA. In August of that year, Rolls-Royce announced it would be replacing turbine blades on all Trent 1000-powered 787s after it uncovered problems with the coating on blades in the intermediate pressure area. ANA was forced to cancel flights while some of its 787s were grounded.

Previous Concerns

Last December, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive concerning the Trent 1000 engines, placing a cyclical life limit on the engines with their original intermediate pressure turbine blades. When an engine reaches its limit, it must be removed so that the blades can be replaced.

Mark Harkin, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Boeing 787 Dreamliners have been grounded by the Trent 1000 engine problem, reportedly caused by sulfidation corrosion.

The EASA specifically blames sulfidation corrosion for the cracking that has led to the blades breaking.

Sulfidation occurs at high temperatures and in airplanes can be brought on by the sulfur in jet fuel as well as environmental exposure. The corrosion process can be exacerbated in materials that contain niobium, which the blades in the affected Pratt & Whitney engines contained. A chromium coating can reportedly slow the corrosion.

As of March, Rolls-Royce had spent $315 million replacing turbine blades in affected engines.

Planning Ahead

According to American Machinist, Rolls-Royce also plans to increase efforts to create a permanent solution—the new Intermediate Pressure Compressor rotor. Evaluation will begin early next month.

“We fully recognize the unacceptable levels of disruption our customers are facing,” said Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, president for Civil Aerospace. “We are intensely focused on minimizing this and we have set our teams the challenge of doing everything we can to recover our customers’ operations as swiftly as possible.”

In response to the Airworthiness Directive issued by EASA and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration last month, the company has tripled the number of engines its centers are able to work on at a given time. In this same vein, Rolls-Royce has developed leaner “workscope methods” that reduce maintenance completion time, while also opening new lines where work is already conducted, namely in Singapore and in Heathrow and Derby, England.

Further measures to increase capacity are currently under development.


Tagged categories: Aerospace; Corrosion; Corrosion protection

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