LONDON — The never-ending drama from the 787 Dreamliner seems to have taken another turn for the worse today after British carriers Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have been told to make sure that their flight paths always keep their planes within one hour of an airport. This announcement today has come after only a few months ago when Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic were two of many airlines had to report excessive corrosion in their Dreamliner engines.
This issue, however, is not new. The first report of the excessive wear in the engines was made by ANA All Nippon Airways back in 2016 when they found that their engines had corroded turbine blades, since then there have been multiple reports of issues with the engines which once saw an Air New Zealand 787 have to turn back after the pilots reported issues with the engine and had to shut it down mid-flight, the engines in question are the Trent 100 engines which are also used to power some 787-9 aircraft.
Boeing has been extensively investigating the engines with Rolls Royce ever since the first reports of the issue and they had already in 2016 created a replacement program with ANA in which Rolls Royce covered the costs. On Friday Rolls Royce said they were working to repair the engines and problem but said that the issue may not be fully fixed until 2022.
READ MORE: Rolls-Royce Reports Record Loss In 2016
So what does this mean? Well, it means that flight plans will need to be changed. Virgin Atlantic will now need to change their Transatlantic routes which could see flight times to some of their destinations like Boston increase from 7 hours 15 minutes up to 8 hours.
A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said: “All airlines flying twin-engine aircraft have a requirement to be within 60 minutes of a diversion airfield. This can be varied under regulation depending on route requirements and regulatory approvals. There’s currently an industry-wide shortage of Trent 1000 engines, which is impacting airlines around the world. In order to avoid disrupting our customers, we have added additional aircraft to our fleet, including four A330-200s. We always fully comply with all safety requirements and don’t anticipate any impact to our services.”
British Airways have said however that they are unlikely to be affected massively by this decision as they said that many of their 787-9 Dreamliners are allowed to fly within 3 hours of the nearest airport while others can go no further than 140 minutes away from a runway.
In a statement from a spokesman for BA said: “The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority and we would never operate an aircraft if it was unsafe to do so. Like other airlines around the world, we are carrying out detailed precautionary inspections on Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines on some of our Boeing 787-9s to ensure we meet all the relevant regulatory requirements. Our Flight Planning teams have enormous experience in managing flight paths on our global network every day and always ensure we meet the relevant safety regulations.”
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It would appear that the engine issues have an end in sight but only time will tell how these problems will continue to affect not only the airlines that use them but Boeing and Rolls Royce alike, with airlines having to spend more money on a plane that was supposed to save them money. While we wait to see how these changes will be brought in it will be interesting to see if the changes affect the sales or for now the current orders of the 787-9 Dreamliners until the engine issues are fixed.