Some Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 powered 787s will have their ETOPS capability downgraded from tomorrow.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) are set to publish an Advisory Directive slashing the maximum time radius affected aircraft are permitted to fly from a diversion airfield from 330 minutes to just 140 minutes.
The directive follows a series of failures and in-flight shutdowns on the Trent 1000 C powerplant, which engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce says are due to premature wear in the intermediate stage compressor and turbine blades and seals.
The 787 became only the second airliner type, after the Boeing 777, to receive the full 330 minute ETOPS rating in 2014. However, even that followed an earlier setback when problems with the all-electric jet's lithium-ion batteries led the FAA to limit its rating to 180 minutes in 2013.
ETOPS certification permits twin-engined aircraft to operate further than 60 minutes flying time from any suitable diversion airfield, essential for opening up long-haul routes over sparsely populated areas. As an aircraft built around the premise of operating low-density long-haul routes, many airlines operating the affected 787-9s face the prospect of severe flight planning restrictions until the problems are resolved.
The 330 minute rating opens up almost the entire globe to twin-engined aircraft, with only a few 'no-go' areas in the most remote parts of Antarctica.
330 minute ETOPS. The dark area over Antarctica represents the only remaining 'no-go' area
Limiting the B787 to 140 minute ETOPS, however, rules out flights from the USA to Hawaii and across some areas of the Pacific, as well as the central and south Atlantic and southern Indian oceans.
With a 140 minute ETOPS rating, the number of 'no-go' areas are vastly increased
Whilst the majority of US-based 787-9 operators use the General Electric GEnx engine, which is unaffected by the changes, Japan's ANA operate 28 Trent 1000 powered 787-9s and British Airways operate the type on its ultra-long haul route to Santiago amongst others. Boeing estimate that up to a quarter of the global 787 fleet could be affected.
The FAA directive follows an EASA Airworthiness Directive calling for more frequent inspections of Trent 1000 C engines, just days after Rolls-Royce themselves advised operators the affected engines would need to be inspected monthly.
Edited by skelsey