In a shock move – as they were considered ahead in the likely engine supplier stakes for the new 797-X – Rolls Royce have said they are no longer interested.
The reason is telling in itself and in many ways I applaud their decision and the reason for it.
In short, Rolls Royce said there simply isn’t enough time to properly develop the engine – even though it would be derived from the Trent-1000 used on the 787.
Bearing in mind the issues that all of the engine manufacturers have faced on virtually every engine type in recent years, some of which have resulted in fatalities, it’s a brave decision.
Finally a manufacturer is saying enough is enough and it needs more time to do it properly or – as has happened with the Trent-1000 – it damages the brand and reputation of the manufacturer. Never mind the cost of putting things right.
While this almost certainly gives GE a guarantee of big orders it’s also going to be a huge responsibility to get it right – with minimal development time, as the pressure to meet Boeing and customer airline demands piles on.
In other Rolls Royce news the company said yesterday that it’s 797 engine retrofits programme was advancing quickly and that 31 787’s were currently grounded globally – but by the last quarter of 2019, that will be reduced to under 9.