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ANA may cancel 350 flights tied to Rolls-Royce engine

  • August 26, 2016
  • , Nikkei Asian Review , 7:0 a.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — All Nippon Airways will begin grounding some jetliners on domestic routes Friday because of a problem with engines supplied by British manufacturer Rolls-Royce, which could result in at least 350 flight cancellations through the end of September. 

 

The ANA Holdings unit said it will cancel nine flights Friday on Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The routes connect Tokyo and other Japanese cities including Fukuoka. International service is unaffected.

 

The service suspension owes to durability concerns involving a key engine part. ANA found that breakage could develop prematurely because of insufficient anti-corrosion coating, possibly a design flaw.

 

The airline will replace the part earlier than scheduled. Though ANA usually avoids service disruptions by using spare aircraft, the large scale of the repairs makes cancellations inevitable this time.

 

Rolls-Royce has notified other airlines that use the same engine type, ANA said. The manufacturer will develop and produce an improved part by the end of the year.

 

In February and March, engine abnormalities forced some ANA international flights to return to the airport after takeoff. The airline investigated the matter with Rolls-Royce and identified medium-pressure turbine blades as the culprit. The carrier has since been repairing 787 Dreamliners used on international routes.

 

But a similar problem occurred Saturday on a domestic flight from Tokyo to Miyazaki Prefecture, so ANA decided to front-load parts replacement for 13 planes on domestic service as well.

 

Friday’s cancellations affect 3,110 travelers and erode ANA’s revenue by 55 million yen ($547,000). The airline is arranging alternative flights or other means of transportation for customers. It will discuss compensation for lost earnings and repair costs with Rolls-Royce.

 

ANA rival Japan Airlines uses 30 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, but with a different engine type.

Made with lightweight carbon fiber composite material, the midsize widebody jet series, which debuted in 2011, can seat 210 to 290 people and boasts a roughly 20% improvement in fuel economy. Boeing had received orders for 1,161 units as of July, and has delivered 445. Airlines choose between engines built by Rolls-Royce or U.S. company General Electric.

 

ANA became the first customer for the Boeing 787, and the total of 83 units ordered by the Japanese carrier is the largest of any airline in the world. The company’s 787 fleet of 50 planes accounts for some 11% of all units in service worldwide.

In January 2013, smoke coming out of the jet’s batteries caused service suspensions for a few months.

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