Rolls-Royce shares recover to pre-QF32 price

I got a call from Rolls-Royce today, which woke me up. The last one was about five years ago. It was Peter Morgan, the engine manufacturer’s director of corporate affairs.

Perhaps, I hoped, he was finally going to give me some information relevant to the ongoing inquiry into the Qantas QF32 accident – the one in which the No 2 Trent 900 engine on one of its A380s suffered uncontained failure, severely damaging the airframe and aircraft systems.

No such luck. Mr Morgan wanted to persuade me to withdraw information published in Flight International and on Flightglobal, on the grounds that it was misleading.

We had reported that the fault which caused the engine failure only affected the earlier Trent 900 versions, the A and B variants, but not the C. Morgan said that implied that Rolls knew about the weakness, and had eliminated it in the C version. But, he told me: “It is not true that we knew about a problem in the A and B versions of the engine and went on to correct it in the C version. There has been no design change relevant to this failure between A, B and C versions of the engine.”

So, I asked him, is the C vulnerable to the same failure as the A and B? No, he said, the C is not vulnerable to that failure.

I asked what the difference was between the two. What had Rolls introduced which rendered the C resistant to a QF32-type failure? Morgan consulted his colleagues at Rolls and decided not to comment.

I had a pretty frank – but scrupulously polite - exchange of views with Morgan.

Why will Rolls never answer reasonable questions? They have always been the same (and for me, always is many years). And I am not alone among my colleagues in finding Rolls a closed book.

Why will Rolls not provide information about what they are doing to rectify the QF32 problem in the Trent 900 series? They think it is enough to inform us that they are doing something, but they will not discuss what it is. They discuss it with their “clients”, the airlines and the airframe manufacturer, but not elsewhere.

So it’s a case of “Not in front of the children”, apparently.

I put it to Morgan that Rolls’ ultimate clients are the fare paying passengers who are, right now, trying to make an intelligent decision about whether to ask Qantas, or Singapore Airlines, or Lufthansa to put them on one of the Boeing 747 departures instead of an A380.

The gibe did not work.

But the passengers have nothing to worry about, he told me, adding that proof of the market’s confidence is that Rolls-Royce shares have climbed back to the price they had before QF32.

So that’s alright, then.

PS: Morgan has just rung me to say that, if he said that the C version was not vulnerable to the QF32 fault like the A and B versions are, he should not have done.

The Rolls-Royce message remains clear: providing information is dangerous, so don’t do it. 

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5 Responses to Rolls-Royce shares recover to pre-QF32 price

  1. Aiso 8 December, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    So, apparently the share buying community has more information compared to the aviation community (outside Airbus, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa that is).

  2. nikos 8 December, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    Sounds to me that Mr Morgan should follow the age old advice about not digging once in the hole.

    Other websites are reporting “data” from the Australian Authorities that seem to imply the “cause” of the “liberation event” was the failure by fatigue of an oil pipe connecting feature manufactured incorrectly. My hunch is that this was not the ROOT cause – nothing is ever quite so simple on planet RB 211.

  3. FF 8 December, 2010 at 6:09 pm #

    Rolls Royce are hopeless.

    Like their [I believe] only response to the Australian Safety Board’s report: “The safety recommendation of the ATSB is consistent with what we have said before.”

    We don’t want consistent statements. We want to know what happened, why it happened and why we should believe nothing similar will ever happen again.

  4. Roger Lee 8 December, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

    If Rolls Royce thinks that misleading information has been published, they should do the simple thing of providing the correct information .If they are not willing to do this they must have something to hide . Since when has the price of shares solved any technical problems . I thought it was the job of Engineers to do this !
    This Company ought to behave more responsibly in view of the fact that plenty of taxpayer`s money has been shovelled their way recently . Don`t forget that us taxpayer`s saved their bacon in 1971 .
    Their dealings with the outside world should reflect that they are representing Great Britain and not a bunch of secretive operators from Derby !

  5. David Connolly 9 December, 2010 at 2:02 am #

    What version of the Rolls Royce alphabet soup was the Trent 895 of BA-038 of Jan 17 2008 with it’s contained “latent design failure” of it’s fuel-oil heat exchanger ?…Considering the “carry on rolling, QF-32 PR blunder down under” attitude of RR’s Peter Morgan, RR needs a PR overhaul. As David L. said, the airline is the customer, as the customer is the airline. He may be a boyo of the Welsh Valleys, but they ain’t singing his praises and he clearly can’t roll with the deserved punches. And if Midland England’s River Trent could speak from it’s deeper depths it would say, “still rivers run deeper than the Rolling PR, the inverse square root of RR BS”. In essence, Rolls info damming effort, damns it deservedly for shooting itself in N1,2&3 with a single PR FOD, without any hint of a PR borescope. Boyo Morgan is clearly so far beyond PR parody on a rolling stroll, that PR parody itself, could not possibly catch up with him on a sprint, even with afterburnig assistance. And I thought German humour was no laughing matter ? the Rolling Derby has corrected me, QED or is that QFD ?