An employee works on a Trent aircraft engine on the production line at the Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc factory in Derby, U.K.(Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg)

Rolls-Royce 787 Engine Snag Extends to Airbus New A330Neo

(Bloomberg) -- Glitches with Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc engines that have dogged Boeing Co.’s 787 wide-body jet are also an issue for the competing A330neo model from Airbus SE.

Rolls-Royce’s Trent 7000 turbine, the only one available on the Airbus plane, shares durability problems afflicting the Trent 1000 from which it was developed, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing concerns that haven’t been made public.

A Rolls-Royce spokesman confirmed the A330neo issues in response to questions from Bloomberg. The upgraded version of the Trent 1000 — the Trent 1000 TEN — that Rolls is offering as a replacement for the original turbine is also affected, the manufacturer said.

The earlier Trent 1000 snag has led to unscheduled shop visits for dozens of 787s at carriers including Virgin Atlantic Ltd. and British Airways, costing the engine maker more than 220 million pounds ($310 million) in charges last year. While the A330neo hasn’t entered service, the Trent 7000 glitch is of concern to Airbus because it could deter buyers, one of the people said.

Parts of the A330neo engine are being redesigned, though most fixes won’t be available until about six months after the first plane is due for its first delivery this summer, according to one of the people.

Trent 1000 TEN

It’s “possible that a population of early Trent 1000 TEN and Trent 7000 engines may benefit from proactive maintenance to embody parts in their first shop visit that weren’t available at the point of production,” Rolls-Royce said by email. “This is normal practice at the very start of a new engine production program.”

A redesigned turbine blade that is being rolled out with the 787 will also be used on the Trent 7000 and will be ready to ship with the A330neo’s first delivery, Rolls said. The blades have been the biggest area of distress for Rolls and the most expensive to fix. Other parts will take longer.

Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, had no comment.

Shares of London-based Rolls-Royce closed down 2.3 percent Friday to 861.20 pence. Airbus fell 1.8 percent to 92.92 euros in Paris.

The turbine issue is a setback for Airbus as it seeks to win new deals for the already slow-selling A330neo, a plane distinguished from the original A330 chiefly by its upgraded engines. The model is already six months late due to earlier engine-design problems and a lack of testing capacity at Rolls-Royce.

Bloomberg News reported on Friday that the European manufacturer’s talks with American Airlines Group Inc. on a possible A330neo order had ended, clearing the way for Boeing to win the business.

For Rolls, the glitch comes as Chief Executive Officer Warren East redoubles restructuring efforts to help revive profits and the company grapples with the introduction of three new models, including the Trent 7000 and the updated Trent 1000.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.