More 787 Trent Trouble, Battle: Virgin Australia, Lufthansa cuts new aircraft

More 787 Trent-1000 trouble

As if there haven’t been enough problems to go round for the myriad of airlines flying the 787 Rolls Royce Trent-1000 engine over the last two years, a new problem has reared its head.

Rolls Royce has instructed operators of the engine to look at potential cracking in a low pressure turbine disc, which apparently rub against the nearby seals.

Rolls Royce have spent over a billion dollars in repairs alone, never mind compensation, lost or cancelled orders (ANZ for example swapped from RR for their next aircraft), and goodwill payments.

air-brakes on Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine on ANA All Nippon Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner landing

EASA are saying that inspections can wait until the next maintenance visit and that the discs can still be installed in new turbines so long as they’re examined afterward.

While it’s not a massive disaster, the reputation of RR and the Trent-1000 has taken a sharp knock over the years, and GE have taken a far larger slice of the market than RR are comfortable with.

Once again, pressure to produce engines without sufficient design and testing time have come home to roost.


Battle for Virgin Australia

Bond holders who propped up Virgin Australia in the past and are owed US$2 billion, have asked the Australian Takeovers Panel to stop Bain Capital taking control of the airline. If Bain succeeds, they’ve lost 99% of their investments.

Broad Peak Investment Advisors of Singapore have said they were prevented from voting on an alternate proposal by the Administrators of the bankrupt airline, Deloitte, at the upcoming shareholders meeting, which is supposed to rubber stamp Bain’s purchase.

The bond holders want to inject another US$1 billion and re-float the airline on the stock exchange.

Deloitte are adamant Bain is the best deal, but the powerful Takeovers Panel is a peer review group, and they are highly independent and inclined to want to see the micro-detail of both sides arguments. They have the power to stop the Bain purchase.

Virgin Australia owes US$7 billion to creditors, including the bond holders, 10,000 staff, leasing companies and banks. The Morrison Government refused a bailout, seeing it as good money after bad.


Lufthansa

Lufthansa is cutting by half the number of new aircraft it will take delivery of to the end of 2023.

The current full order book consists of 61 A320Neo, 35 A321Neo, 27 A350-900, 20 777-9, and 20 787-9.

This is especially bad news for Boeing, as it takes 10 787-9’s and 10 777-9’s out of its delivery schedules – and Lufthansa was pretty much co-launch customer. Furthermore the airline seems inclined to put off even taking the 777-9 until 2023 at the earliest – and the first is not far from being ready for flight testing.

Airbus have already slowed production dramatically, and the inevitably of a reduced delivery schedule is less of a surprise.

There remains an element on Lufthansa’s board said to want out of the 777-9 altogether, feeling its just another A380 in terms of size and complexity, and the limited markets it can operate to are reminiscent of the A380’s key problems.

The airline also announced another 1,000 job cuts as part of its restructuring programme.