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​Trent troubles force Air NZ 787-9s to make refuelling stops

Air New Zealand’s services to the United States and Japan have been affected by issues with some of its Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines on its Boeing 787-9s.

“Weight restrictions included in an FAA directive issued last week mean some Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flights to Asian destinations will be required to make refueling stops,” says the carrier.

Routes affected include Los Angeles and Houston, services to Tokyo Haneda, and some trans-Tsasman and Pacific island flights.

“Depending on en-route weather conditions, some flights may not be able to depart with all the fuel they require, prompting the need for the fuel stop. Over the weekend, 787-9 flights made fuel stops at Sydney, Cairns, Darwin and Guam.”

David Morgan, chief operational integrity and standards officer, offered a positive assessment of the stops: “Having the flexibility to make a short fuel stop means we are more likely to be able to take a full contingent of customers and cargo. The alternative would see us potentially having to disappoint significant numbers of customers by moving them to later flights. We are committed to doing everything possible to avoid this, particularly during this busy school holiday travel period.”

Overall, 9000 passengers will be impacted by the refueling stop issue, which the carrier says is less than 3% of customers.

The carrier made the remarks in its fourth R-R engine update since 14 April, when it said it was working closely with the engine maker following a directive from EASA that detailed a new inspection regime for Trent 1000 powerplants as part of the effort to address intermediate pressure compressor blade durability. On 13 April, R-R had disclosed that Package C engines, which are used on the 787, are subject to greater scrutiny.

FligthMaps Analytics shows that Air New Zealand operates its 787-9s to four Asia-Pacific destinations: Bali, Singapore, Shanghai, and Tokyo. It also uses the type on its Auckland-Houston service.

On 16 April, Air New Zealand advised that nine of the Trent 1000 engines that power its Boeing 787-9s are affected by a recent airworthiness directive that reduced the inspection interval on certain compressor components.

One day later, the FAA said it will limit 787-8s and -9s with affected engines from flying on extended operations (ETOPS) routes longer than 140min flight time from the closest diversion airport.

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