Singapore Airlines (SIA), which was the first to operate the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner last year, has grounded two of its nine jets, the airline said yesterday, confirming an earlier report in The Straits Times.
The planes are all fitted with the latest Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 TEN engines, an improved version of the Trent 1000 engine, which has had issues with premature blade cracking.
Sources had told The Straits Times that preliminary checks showed that the same cracked blade issue is affecting the new TEN engine.
SIA said in a statement that during recent routine inspections of the Trent 1000 TEN engines on the B787-10 fleet, premature blade deterioration was found on several engines.
"As safety is our top priority, the SIA Group, in consultation with Rolls-Royce, proactively identified other Trent 1000 TEN engines in the group's 787 fleet to undergo precautionary inspections.
"All of these engine inspections on SIA's 787-10 fleet have now been completed, and a remaining check will be completed on a Scoot 787-9 by April 3," he said.
Pending engine replacements, two SIA 787-10 aircraft have been removed from service. As a result, some flights have been affected.
SIA currently deploys 787-10s to 12 destinations, including Bangkok, Denpasar (Bali), Fukuoka, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Nagoya, New Delhi, Osaka, Perth, Taipei and Tokyo (Narita).
SIA is operating other aircraft for these flights to minimise disruption, but as the replacement aircraft may have lower capacity, some customers may be affected, and will be contacted accordingly.
The spokesman said: "We regret the inconvenience caused and sincerely apologise to customers whose travel plans are affected, and seek their understanding."
SIA is working closely with Rolls-Royce and the authorities for any additional follow-up actions and precautionary measures that may be required going forward, he said.
A Rolls-Royce spokesman said that since the entry into service of the Trent 1000 TEN, the firm has told operators that the high-pressure turbine blades in these engines would have a limited life cycle.
"Working with operators, we have been sampling a small po-pulation of the Trent 1000 TEN fleet that has flown in more arduous conditions.
"This work has shown that a small number of these engines need to have their blades replaced earlier than scheduled," she said.
In anticipation of limited tur-bine blade life, Rolls-Royce engineers have already developed and are testing an enhanced version of the blade.
"We will now work closely with any impacted customers to deliver an accelerated programme to implement the enhanced blade and to ensure that we can deliver on our Trent 1000 TEN future commitments. We regret any disruption this causes to airline operations," she said.
Last year, SIA became the first airline in the world to fly the Boeing 787-10 aircraft as part of its fleet.
These aircraft are configured with 337 seats in two classes, featuring 36 Business Class seats and 301 Economy Class seats.
Separately, SIA's regional arm, SilkAir, has also been affected by the grounding of its Boeing 737 Max 8.