The Japanese airline ANA has said it will replace all 100 Rolls-Royce engines on its fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners after three engine failures in 2016 caused by corrosion and cracking of turbine blades.
The world’s largest 787 operator said all 50 of its 787s would receive engines fitted with new blades, a process that could take up to three years.
ANA had five engines that currently needed repairs “but we will replace all the 100 engines for enhanced safety measures”, the company said, adding that it had already repaired three engines.
Rolls-Royce said the engine maker would swap existing blades for new ones on ANA’s planes in the short term, and had already started production of a new blade design that would be ready by the end of 2016.
“We are working very closely with ANA,” said Rolls spokesman Richard Wray.
The blade would be used from next year on new 787s, Wray said, adding that other airlines were managing the issue with “ongoing maintenance”.
The Rolls-Royce chief executive officer, Warren East, said on Tuesday that ANA’s problem was a “manageable issue”. ANA’s “intensive” use of the engines had caused the blades to wear more quickly than usual, he said.
ANA said the first engine failure happened on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo in February. A second flight in March and a third in August had similar problems.
On Wednesday ANA said four 787s remained grounded and it had cancelled 18 domestic flights due to the engine problem. The airline said it expected no further cancellations through mid-September. Beyond that its schedule had not been finalised.
The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine, one of two engine choices for the Boeing 787 jetliner, costs about $20m at list price. General Electric also makes a 787 engine, known as the GEnx.
Boeing’s 787, built with lightweight carbon-fibre wings and fuselage, is a technological leap forward and uses 20% less fuel than the jets it replaces. But it was three years late coming to market and regulators grounded the fleet in 2013 after lithium batteries overheated and burned on some planes.
Boeing has delivered about 445 of the planes, which seat 242 to 290 passengers and cost $225m to $265m at list price.