THAI joins Rolls-Royce R&D project
Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) and Rolls-Royce have announced a collaboration on an R&D programme for the Trent XWB engine.
Surachai Piencharoensak, executive vice-president for technical matters at THAI, said the Trent XWB Development Testing partnership will take place over a two-year period at Don Mueang airport.
"This is the first overseas engine research and development testing for Rolls-Royce outside the United Kingdom," Mr Surachai said. "This programme is part of the strategic plan for 2018-19 and is a revenue-generating, collaborative project for THAI, whereby technology and skills gained will further strengthen Thailand's aviation industry."
The initial objective is to conduct R&D on the Trent XWB-97 engine, which powers the Airbus A350-1000 aircraft that was launched in February.
To ascertain the engine's limitations in usage, continual simulated engine tests are conducted. These tests, in addition to scheduled checks and maintenance, can help improve product quality.
Dominic Horwood, chief customer officer for civil aerospace at Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, said the company entered the Thai market over 50 years ago and the latest partnership marks another milestone.
The collaboration will undertake the full chain of aerospace activities in Thailand, including manufacturing; maintenance, repair and operations (MRO); and development testing.
"Rolls-Royce invests about US$100 million (3.3 billion baht) a year to support the manufacturing supply chain footprint in Thailand," Mr Horwood said.
In 2020, THAI and Rolls-Royce will cooperate on Trent 700 engine maintenance and overhaul, making THAI's facility a certified and authorised engine maintenance centre for Rolls-Royce.
Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith hailed the cooperative effort between the two countries, saying Thailand's development as an MRO hub would create revenue for THAI.
Last December, THAI and Airbus signed an agreement to assess MRO business opportunities at U-tapao airport in Rayong province.
Development of U-tapao is one of several important projects under the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) scheme. The deal between THAI and Airbus defines the framework of mutual cooperation to determine opportunities related to MRO development.
The fleets operated by carriers in Asia and the Pacific are forecast to more than double in size over the next 20 years, from 6,100 aircraft to almost 17,000.
Airbus estimates that the value of MRO in this region alone will reach $664 billion over the next decade.
This year, THAI began maintaining the Airbus A380 at U-tapao. New hangar facilities are planned to support the growing airport.