Grounded Dreamliners stagger THAI
Four of six aircraft awaiting repairs
Thai Airways International (THAI) had to ground its fleet of Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jets for a few weeks due to troubles with jet engines made by Rolls-Royce.
Four of the six wide-body aircraft remain on the tarmac at Suvarnabhumi airport while two of them are back in service after issues related to turbine blades in the Trent-1000 engine, which THAI says may affect flight safety.
The grounding began several weeks ago, and have impacted THAI flights normally served by the mid-sized long-haul aircraft such as those routes to Western Australia, Dubai, parts of Japan and neighbouring countries, industry sources told the Bangkok Post yesterday.
THAI acting president Usanee Sangsingkeo said yesterday the situation with the Rolls-Royce engines at the flag carrier should improve starting next month and return to normal operations in September.
In the meantime, THAI intends to claim financial compensation from the British aero-engine maker for the damage arising from the issues, she said without specifying the amount.
The issues with Trent-1000 are not unique to THAI, but have also been seen in other airlines that operate the US-made Dreamliners fitted with the engine.
THAI, like other airlines, is faced with great difficulties from Rolls-Royce in fixing the turbine blades fast enough to meet carriers' aircraft maintenance schedules.
Rolls-Royce had earlier suggested that it would need three years to replace turbine blades on the entire global fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners powered by the Trent-1000 engine, after corrosion and cracking problems were discovered on some passenger jets operated by Japanese launch customer ANA.
Rolls-Royce found issues with the coating on blades located in the intermediate pressure area inside the Trent-1000 engine early last year.
There are over 160 Dreamliners powered by the Rolls-Royce engines.
Mrs Usanee said Rolls-Royce has been unable to fix the engine problems in time because of the huge backlog of engines requiring such services, as well as issues involving the procurement of parts.
THAI has been sending the troubled Rolls-Royce engines for repair at the company's Singapore facilities, where staff have their hands full.
The grounding of the Dreamliner aircraft have prompted THAI to take a series of action to mitigate the effects, including switching and swapping other aircraft from its fleet to operate on flights normally served by the Dreamliner.
"The grounding has really cost us a fortune, our passengers are unhappy and our reputation has been damaged,'' a senior THAI executive, who asked not to be named, said.
"We are working closely with Thai Airways to restore all their aircraft to full operation as soon as possible," said a Rolls-Royce spokeswoman.