Rolls-Royce plane-en­gine fail­ure costs to ex­ceed $80 mil­lion

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

PARIS: Rolls-Royce Plc faces costs and penal­ties of more than the 50 mil­lion pounds ($80 mil­lion) to fix its Trent 900 en­gine that blew up on an Air­bus SAS A380 op­er­ated by Qan­tas Air­ways Ltd., ac­cord­ing to Nick Cunningham of Agency Part­ners. Com­pen­sa­tion will ex­tend to Qan­tas, which grounded all six of its A380s for 23 days and now is op­er­at­ing only two, and to other client air­lines and the plane man­u­fac­turer Air­bus, for ex­pected de­lays in fu­ture de­liv­er­ies, he said.

Rolls may also find it more chal­leng­ing to mar­ket the en­gine to po­ten­tial cus­tomers, Cunningham said. That would pro­vide an ad­van­tage to Gen­eral Elec­tric Co. and United Tech­nolo­gies Corp.'s Pratt & Whit­ney, which to­gether make a ri­val pow­er­plant for the A380.

"This event and its af­ter­math might im­pact on the mar­ketabil­ity of the Trent 900 en­gine," ac­cord­ing to Cunningham, who is a man­ag­ing part­ner at the London-based in­vest­ment ad­vi­sory firm and a 25-year vet­eran of the in­dus­try. "This could have a cost in terms of mar­ket share and pric­ing." The costs to 2010 profit are un­likely to be the fi­nal in­stall­ment, Cunningham said. Fur­ther charges against 2011 ac­counts will prob­a­bly fol­low, he said.

Rolls fell 1.5 per­cent to 632.5 pence in London trad­ing as of 8:04 a.m.

More­over, the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter En­gine Team has sur­passed a ma­jor test goal for 2010, launch­ing tests on the sixth new F136 en­gine this year.

The F136 test team also beat a ma­jor mile­stone with time to spare - run­ning a full propul­sion sys­tem for the first time with the com­mon hard­ware for STOVL op­er­a­tion (Short Take Off/Ver­ti­cal Land­ing).

Test­ing be­gan in late Novem­ber on En­gine #009, an en­durance en­gine, and En­gine #006, which was re-con­fig­ured into STOVL mode fol­low­ing ear­lier tests. The F136 team has com­piled more than 850 test hours in 2010, with a goal of reach­ing 1000 by year's end. Four F136 en­gines, at three lo­ca­tions, are test­ing con­cur­rently for the first time.

The GE / Rolls-Royce de­ci­sion in 2005 to re­size the F136 en­gine with a larger core and higher-flow fan is prov­ing for­tu­itous as test en­gines are be­ing run to ex­treme flight con­di­tions. The re­sized core and fan pro­vide a low-risk so­lu­tion for the F136 Sys­tem Devel­op­ment and Demon­stra­tion pro­gram, and the en­gine will en­ter pro­duc­tion with cooler run­ning tem­per­a­tures. That will trans­late into a long-term main­te­nance cost ad­van­tage as high as 25 per­cent over the com­pet­ing JSF en­gine. The en­gine test­ing has ver­i­fied the tem­per­a­ture ad­van­tage as pre­dicted.

Full flight en­ve­lope test­ing nec­es­sary to val­i­date the F136 per­for­mance model; to demon­strate meet­ing spec­i­fi­ca­tion thrust re­quire­ments; and to in­te­grate the en­gine con­trol soft­ware with the Joint Strike Fighter F-35 air­craft is be­ing con­ducted on an F136 devel­op­ment en­gine (#005) at the U.S. Air Force Arnold En­gi­neer­ing Devel­op­ment Cen­ter (AEDC) in Tul­la­homa, Ten­nessee. En­gine #005 has ac­cu­mu­lated more than 330 hours of test­ing and is ex­pected to con­tinue run­ning at AEDC for sev­eral more weeks.

"We are ea­ger to com­plete mea­sure­ments of F136 in­stalled thrust and op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­tures through­out the flight en­ve­lope. The en­gine has al­ready demon­strated the ca­pa­bil­ity of 15+ per­cent thrust mar­gin against spec­i­fi­ca­tion at sea level, static con­di­tion," said Al DiLibero, Pres­i­dent of the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter En­gine Team. "The AEDC test­ing has con­firmed for us that the F136 is per­form­ing at, or bet­ter than, all of our test ex­pec­ta­tions."

Since the JSF spec­i­fi­ca­tion in­cludes the propul­sion sys­tem losses as­so­ci­ated with in­stalling the en­gine into the air­craft, the F136 en­gine was tested as if it was in­stalled in the air­craft for a true com­par­i­son of ca­pa­bil­ity avail­able to the warfighter. On an unin­stalled ba­sis, the thrust mar­gin at the sea level, static con­di­tion is sig­nif­i­cantly greater (typ­i­cally about 20 per­cent above the "in­stalled thrust" mea­sure­ment).

"These pos­i­tive test re­sults give the Fighter En­gine Team great con­fi­dence mov­ing to­ward first flight next year," said Mark Rhodes, Se­nior Vice Pres­i­dent of the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter En­gine Team. "The sig­nif­i­cant tem­per­a­ture mar­gins will mean big sav­ings for the cus­tomer in fu­ture."

F136 test en­gine #007 con­tin­ues to run at GE Avi­a­tion's Even­dale, Ohio, test fa­cil­ity where valu­able data on the higher air­flow fan is be­ing mapped with sim­u­lated in­let dis­tor­tion. En­gine #007 has more than 265 hours of test time.

Pro­duc­tion is un­der­way on Flight Test En­gine #041, the first F136 to flight test on the F-35 Light­ning II air­craft. Fi­nal assem­bly oc­curs early next year, with ac­cep­tance test­ing slated in mid2011. En­gine #041 is sched­uled to flight test on AF-1 test air­craft late next year.

Out­stand­ing F136 per­for­mance demon­strates the vi­tal role that the en­gine will play com­pet­ing in the Joint Strike Fighter pro­gram over sev­eral decades. GE / Roll­sRoyce re­cently com­pleted the fifth year of the team's Sys­tem Devel­op­ment and Demon­stra­tion (SDD) con­tract with the US Govern­ment Joint Pro­gram Of­fice. -PB News

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