UK-based global major industrial technology group Rolls-Royce announced on Tuesday that, during routine inspections, it had found “indications” of wear on a small number of Intermediate Pressure Compressor (IPC) blades in a few of its Trent XWB-84 turbofan engines. The engines concerned had all been in service for four to five years and were approaching their first scheduled overhauls.
The Trent XWB-84 was developed for the Airbus A350 XWB widebody airliner which entered service five years ago. The current number of engines that have been operational for four to five years is just over 100. Rolls-Royce has inspected most of these and found wear in only a minority of these engines. Further, in the affected engines the average number of IPC blades displaying wear was only one or two.
Each of these four- to five-year old engines has flown an average of 14-million kilometres. None of them has required unscheduled maintenance, all have registered record low incidences of in-flight disruption and none have operated abnormally during flight.
“The Trent XWB-84 has experienced the smoothest entry into service of any widebody engine we have developed,” highlighted Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace president Chris Cholerton. “It is the most efficient in-service large civil aeroengine in the world, with unequalled on-wing reliability. Engines now coming in for overhaul have travelled the equivalent of 350 times around the world, with no unplanned maintenance. It is reassuring to see that our proactive inspection regime has enabled us to identify and swiftly address this issue and minimise any potential impact on our customers.”
The company has carried out precautionary sampling of a number of younger examples of the engine, and has found no signs of unforeseen wear in them. As for the older engines, the additional inspection work during routine inspections, to check for this wear, is expected to be very limited. Given also the ready supply of spare parts and replacement engines, this issue was not expected to impose any significant disruption or noticeable added annual costs to the engines’ operators.
“The Trent XWB-84, [which is] the world’s most-efficient in-service large civil aeroengine, continues to deliver unequalled on-wing reliability with the early batch of engines successfully reaching their planned time on wing,” affirmed the company. Rolls-Royce issued its statement in anticipation of an Airworthiness Directive (AD) being issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency on the issue. The group wished to pre-empt any speculation regarding the issuance of the AD.