ANA Says It Will Replace All The Engines On Their 787 Dreamliner Fleet

I only wish I had enough hours in the day to write about all the things I want when I actually want to.   The ANA story is one of those stories that came out a few days ago but is still interesting to me, so I’m sharing my thoughts.

All Nippon Airways announced earlier this week that it was going to replace all the of the engines on their Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.  That strikes me as highly unusual given that at least some of the engines can’t be very old.  The engine, manufactured by Rolls-Royce, is specifically configured for the 787 Dreamliner and has had some serious issues with cracked turbine blades.

All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner

All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner

According to this Reuters report, ANA intends to replace all the engines over the next 3 years, and Rolls-Royce doesn’t seem to be freaking out too loudly about it:

ANA said last week that under certain flight conditions some of its 50 Dreamliners have been affected by vibrations caused by cracked turbine blades in the rear sections of the engines, forcing three flights since February to return to airports in Japan.

The carrier has halted 18 flights this month resulting in 82 million yen ($800,000) in lost revenue as it works on the jets and has said it may cancel other flights in coming months.

Rolls-Royce has so far said the problem is limited to a portion of 787s operated by the Japanese airline.

“It is an issue but it’s a manageable issue,” Rolls-Royce Chief Executive Warren East told Reuters after a business forum hosted by the German foreign ministry in Berlin on Tuesday. “With the more intensive use, the natural wear and tear on the engines happens sooner,” he said.

The Rolls-Royce engines aren’t the only engine to have problems with the Dreamliner.  There have been problems with the GE engines as well, though I don’t recall any nearly as serious as the ANA issue sounds.

Engine wear is measure in “hours” as opposed to “days”, and the routes a plane flies can drastically impact the number of hours on an engine.  So, just the age of the aircraft isn’t a great indicator of the number of hours an engine might have operated.  That being said, I find it pretty hard to believe that all of these engines will be at the end of their serviceable life in the next 3 years.

That makes me wonder who’s paying for all the new engines.  As close as I can recall, I don’t think American or United have any Rolls-Royce engines on their 787s, so this may not affect the US-based carriers as much. And, ANA is the largest operator of the 787, serving as the launch customer and currently operating 50 planes.

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner

American Airlines 787 Dreamliner

I’m a big fan of the 787, but it’s certainly had it’s share of teething problems.  I was lucky enough to fly on the inaugural Japan Airlines flight from Boston to Tokyo a few years ago.

I also got to fly shorter flights on United when we were able to score a 787 for a MegaDO, and I was on the American Airlines inaugural 787 flight last year with a bunch of fellow travel geeks bloggers.

I’m still confident in flying the plane, but it’s been grounded, had fires and now, a pretty widespread engine issue.  It’s the first major launch of a new aircraft since I’ve been writing my blog (and in the world of instant news), so I can’t really compare the teething problems with previous planes.  I’m still a believer, though.  I’ll hop on a 787 tomorrow if it’s going where I need to go.  And, maybe even if it’s not going where I need to!

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