July 23, 2012 / 6:42 PM / 6 years ago

Engine glitch grounds part of ANA Dreamliner fleet

TOKYO/LONDON (Reuters) - Japan‘s All Nippon Airways said on Monday it had grounded several Boeing 787 Dreamliners after discovering a problem inside the new jet‘s Rolls-Royce RR.L engines.

ANA (9202.T), which is the launch customer for the lightweight passenger jet that entered service nine months ago, said the problem had been traced to an engine gearbox on five of the airline‘s fleet of 11 Dreamliners.

Three of the twinjet passenger planes have been fixed and are flying again.

The other two are waiting for parts from Rolls-Royce in the UK and could be out of action for a few weeks, an ANA spokesman said.

Shares in Rolls-Royce fell more than 2 percent, underperforming a weaker UK blue-chip index .FTSE.

”The extent of the issue with ANA appears relatively minor at this stage, given that (three) of the aircraft have already returned to service,“ said RBC Capital Markets analyst Rob Stallard in a note on the incident.

”However, investors remained focused on all things 787, and we could see the reverberation of this problem in the stock prices of Rolls-Royce, Boeing and to a lesser extent UTX (which has a much broader business base.“

Rolls-Royce said the problem related to the part‘s durability.

”We have identified that a component on Trent 1000 engines fitted to Boeing 787 Dreamliners has a reduced service life. As a proactive measure, this component is being replaced in a number of engines,“ a Rolls-Royce spokesman said.

The gearbox is manufactured by United Technologies (UTX.N) subsidiary Hamilton Sundstrand.

A source with knowledge of the events said engineers had spotted the potential for corrosion within a gearbox component and the airplanes had been grounded so that it could be changed.

As of end-June, only Japanese carriers were operating the 787 Dreamliner, the world‘s first mainly carbon-fibre passenger jet which entered service with ANA in October.

Japan Airlines, which has four Boeing 787s in its fleet, uses alternative engines built by General Electric (GE.N) and therefore does not face problems similar to those affecting ANA, Seiji Takaramoto, a Japan Airlines spokesman, said.

Analysts said it was not immediately clear whether the gearbox problem could affect any undelivered 787 aircraft as Boeing works through a backlog of jets earmarked for customers.

Boeing (BA.N) was not immediately available for comment.

A blowout on a different type of engine on the Airbus EAD.PA A380 in November 2010 worsened delivery delays as the engine maker swapped dozens of engines on the production line. (Reporting by Rhys Jones, Yoko Kubota, Tim Kelly, Writing by Sarah Young, Tim Hepher, Editing by James Regan)

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