All 15 787-9’s operated by Virgin Atlantic are affected by faults with Rolls Royce Trent-1000 engines.
Grounding aircraft for relairs has been “seriously disruptive,” forcing Virgin to find a number of workarounds, including calling on owners Delta Airlines and leasing extra aircraft. As many as three of the 258-seat 787-9s have been taken out at any one time.
The cause is durability of fan blade components, and cost Rolls-Royce £227 million pounds ($314 million US) in charges last year and wiped £170 million from its operating cash flow, never a something any large company with big daily bills to pay wants to have happen.
The cash impact will double this year as maintenance activity peaks and Rolls Royce expect that, and costs of the redesign of problem parts will cost it as much as another £100 million.
New parts won’t be fully incorporated in the 787 fleet until 2022.
Rolls-Royce estimated in August 2017 that as many as 500 Trent 1000s need fixing.
Virgin Atlantic has leased four A332’s for up to four years, and purchased an A340-600 from storage – all at considerable cost and Rolls Royce will almost inevitably be picking up some of that cost; the carrier is holding “commercial discussions in private” to get its compensation.
Other airlines seriously affected include Air New Zealand, British Airways and ANA.