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ANA All Nippon 787 flights on temporary hold

(Updated with ANA explanation)

A series of piecemeal reports and statements in the media in Japan say that the launch customer for the Dreamliner, ANA, has grounded five out of 11 of its current fleet of 787-8s.

The reports point a finger at suspected faulty parts in its Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, but leave a host of questions unanswered or evaded.

They also add to confusion in the technical media as to exactly what the status of dozens of delayed 787s are in Everett, where the final assembly line for the Dreamliners appears to be clogged with jets that look complete in most cases but continue to require reworking to fix quality issues.

The relevance of this in Australia is that Qantas has 15 of the model currently in production, the 787-8, in its order for 50 Dreamliners, the balance being -9s, which is the model said to be variously in final design tweaking or moving toward first flight at a date unknown for delivery to launch customer Air New Zealand in mid 2014.

The Qantas jets, the first of which will go to Jetstar some time late next year, use the alternative engine from GE. It would be fair to say that under current Qantas guidance, its immediate fleet renewal strategy is completely at the mercy of 787 deliveries meeting all specifications without further delays.

Update: A document in Japanese and English has been provided since this article was posted, which explains the reasons for a precautionary grounding of the five 787s and includes an illustration of the engine and suspect component.

We received a message from Boeing to the effect that there may be an issue with the gearbox (possible damaged gear) on the engines of the 787s in the ANA fleet.  No related problems have arisen on our 787s, however, we have ascertained that the part at issue is fitted to five of our 11 strong fleet.  Working with Boeing, we will replace the part in question and return our fleet to an operating state as quickly as possible.

The remaining six aircraft in the ANA fleet have not been affected by this issue and we will continue to operate them safely.

Damage was discovered in a Rolls-Royce engine gearbox used for endurance testing on the ground.  A specific gear showed corrosion due to an issue in the surface treatment at the time of production, which led to damage to the gear box.  Certain 787 engines within the ANA fleet have gears produced using the same process, that may possibly lead to corrosion.

 

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  • 1
    comet
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Part of the reason for the delays on the first 55 Dreamliners is that they are delaminating. The layers of composite plastic are coming apart, similar to the plastic on a 1950s laminated dining table peeling off its plyboard base.

    Who knows what other unexpected surprises await early Dreamliner adopters.

  • 2
    Banjo
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    The 787s coming to Australia are not Qantas jets but Jetstar jets. This may seem a case of nit picking but it suits joyce & co.s’ purposes to encourage the pretence that the latest technology will appear in red & white livery. Jetstar are in fact configuring their 787s in the most densely packed configuration in airline aviation, 313 seats. Will Qantas group passengers ever accept the discomfort of long haul flights in so dense a seating plan or is it yet again an example of the 2 brand strategy eating the group alive from the inside out ?

    How could Qantas domestic ever potentially compete with Virgin’s new 330s, with their full lie flat business class seats, in hand me down 313 seat 787s ?

    The best strambi can seem to do, is flog some of the 100+, A320 neo s into Qantas at some point in the future. It seems finding work for 10s of A320s was deemed more advantageous than ever taking any of the last 8 A380s into International.

  • 3
    ghostwhowalksnz
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I dont understand where its said that Qantas /Jetstar 787s are in ‘production’. A very good source , all things 787, has production numbers up to 90 allocated and none of them are QN. The current assembly list is 71-77. It wouldnt make economic sense to build major parts now for mid next year delivery, engines excepted

  • 4
    TT
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    It’s interesting to read the update with ANA’s statement. It sounds like ANA’s B787 had 5 with variant A of Trent-1000 and 6 with variant B (which seems to have the problem concern already fixed). The question is, had ANA aware of at least 2 variants of Trent-1000 they had (I’ll asuume they do), and more importantly, do they aware of the difference between the two.

    It’s sounds all too similar with the Trent-900 issues that we have seen (and unfortunately Qantas was on the receiving end of such RR configuration management issue…)

  • 5
    ag0044
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Ghost,

    At first, I read that sentence like you did. A re-re-read got me to an understanding (which may be a mis-understanding).

    A re-wording (apologies, Ben!) perhaps might read: “…the model currently in production is the 787-8, and Qantas has orders for 15 of them in its order for 50…”

  • 6
    ghostwhowalksnz
    Posted July 23, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    I see your point ag0044

  • 7
    TT
    Posted July 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Read this Aviation week article which gives more insight as to what causes the “recall”:


    Rolls-Royce, Boeing Scramble To Replace Gearboxes On ANA’s 787s
    By Guy Norris
    Source: Aviation Daily
    http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/avd_07_24_2012_p01-01-479326.xml

    It sounds like RR is doing the right thing this time and on the err side of caution. However, it also highlights whether RR Change Management is doing its job – if its sub-contractor change its manufacturing process, why didn’t RR ask precisely why changes are introduced?

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