French-owned airline, Air Austral has grounded one of its two 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft for at least two months due to the Trent 1000 engine issue.
Following routine maintenance Monday, June 3rd at Paris-CDG airport on one of its two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, tests discovered early deterioration on the engine’s fins. Air Austral released a statement about the engine issue that was picked up by French aviation website Air Journal. This read:
“In accordance with the directive of airworthiness enacted by the European authorities for the maintenance, flight safety, the aircraft was unable to leave Paris-CDG airport.”
This incident comes at a particularly bad time for the Reunion Island-based carrier and has them now looking to wet lease an aircraft as they move into their busy summer season.
What is the problem with the Trent 1000?
The cracking of fins in the intermediate pressure (IPT) section of the turbine has caused airlines around the world to ground some of their 787 Dreamliners. This has created a huge headache for the British engine maker.
The problem, according to Horwood as reported by The Engineer, is the sulfurization of the nickel alloy fins. He said,
“This is confined to component level in the Trent 1000. The geometry around the root of the IPT blade concentrated air sucked in by the engine’s compressor system, which in some parts of the world (notably Asia) contained higher levels of sulphur-containing pollutants than the engine had been tested with.”
Rolls Royce tests all its engines inside buildings called test beds, and did not foresee higher levels of sulphur in the air as being a problem.
Rolls Royce has assured its customers that it is working diligently and will have the problem solved in a matter of months, telling Simply Flying’s Tom Boon: “We’re driving to get to a significantly lower level of disruption by the end of this year. That is absolutely the focus with all customers.”
This talk of a solution has come a little late for Air New Zealand who has opted to fit out their latest order of Boeing 787-10s with General Electric GEnx1-B engines according to the website MRO Network.
Who is Air Austral?
Unless you happen to be French or a complete avgeek like us, you will probably never have heard of Air Austral. Based in the French Territory of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean, Air Austral was the first French Airline to fly the 787 Dreamliner.
In partnership with Air Madagascar, the airline operates regular flights between Roland Garros Airport in Reunion and mainland France, 11 hours away. The airline also flies to, South Africa, India, Thailand and several other regional destinations.
Air Austral Fleet
According to Wikipedia Air Austral has two 787-8, three 777-300ER, two 737-800’s and a single ATR 72-500.
Where is Reunion
Leftover from the days of colonization, Reunion has remained staunchly French and is an integral part of the Republic. It is also a part of the Eurozone despite being thousands of miles away.
Reunion is located in the Indian Ocean 517 miles east of Madagascar and 109 miles southwest of Mauritius.