All Nippon Airways is modifying or replacing all 100 engines on its fleet of 50 Boeing 787 Dreamliners because the turbine blades are corroding and cracking. ANA, the launch customer for the 787, chose Rolls Royce engines and as the engines accumulate hours the blade problems have been getting worse. CNN reported the issue has caused ANA Dreamliners to return to their departure airports at least twice and 18 flights have been cancelled. The airline says chemicals in the atmosphere are causing the blade deterioration and it’s taking some immediate interim action until the engine replacement program is complete in about three years.
To date, five engines have been fitted with new blades to extend their lives and it’s not clear who is paying for the sure-to-be-expensive retrofit, but it doesn’t appear ANA will foot the whole bill. “We are working very closely with ANA to minimize the impact on their airline operation,” Rolls-Royce said in a statement. If it chooses to, ANA could replace the RR engines with GE GEnx engines that are also used on the 787 with relatively little trouble. The electrical and other systems are designed to accommodate both without modification and the GE engines could simply replace the Rolls Royce models.