Boeing 787 Engine Troubles Ground ANA Flights

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Corrosion on the turbine blades of some engines built by Rolls-Royce for Boeing Co.’s (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner forced Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) last week to cancel 18 Dreamliner flights in the last few days of August. Further flight cancellations in the first half of September have been ruled out for now, according to a report at Bloomberg News.

The airline currently has six Dreamliners temporarily out of service as it inspects the planes’ engines for evidence of turbine blade erosion. According to Aviation Week, ANA has replaced turbine blades on 17 engines out of the total 100 engines in its fleet. ANA’s fleet of 50 787s is the largest in the world, and the airline has another eight on order.

Corrosion apparently causes the turbine blades to fail and break off, in turn causing damage to other parts of the engine. Rolls-Royce is developing a new turbine blade that will be ready by the end of the year, and ANA is expected to replace all the blades on all its engines beginning early next year.

Aviation Week cited a Rolls-Royce spokesman who said that the company is working closely with ANA “to minimize the effect on aircraft service disruption.” He also added that “this is an accelerated ongoing service management program that relates only to a limited proportion of the ANA fleet involved in domestic operations.”

Boeing customers have a choice between two engines for the 787: the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 and the General Electric Co.’s (NYSE: GE) GEnx-1B. Last April the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered an immediate repair to 787s equipped with the GE engines.

The issues with both engines are unrelated to the earlier production issues that roiled Boeing’s 787 program. The peeling skin and battery-fire issues, to name just two, were solved long ago and have not reappeared.

Boeing’s stock closed down about 0.6% on Friday, at $132.23 in a 52-week range of $102.10 to $150.59. Shares were inactive in premarket trading Monday morning.