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Airbus chief defends Rolls-Royce engines

A Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine, designed specifically for the Airbus A350, at the Rolls Royce factory in Derby, England Reuters/Paul Ellis/Pool
A Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine, designed specifically for the Airbus A350, at the Rolls-Royce factory in Derby, England
  • Emirates boss wants improvements
  • Durability and cost issues cited
  • EgyptAir orders Airbus A350s

French plane manufacturer Airbus has defended its Rolls-Royce engines following words of caution from Emirates president Tim Clark. 

The Dubai carrier’s chief told reporters on the second day of the Dubai Airshow that he wanted improvements on durability and maintenance costs before going ahead with any plans to buy Airbus A350 jets.

His comments came a day after Emirates announced a $52 billion order with US rival Boeing for 90 new 777X jets.

Speaking at a joint announcement with EgyptAir on Tuesday, Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer, said it was a “perfectly fine engine, operated by many customers around the world”.

In 2017, Rolls Royce was forced to recall its Trent 1000 engines on about 30 aircraft after issues emerged over blade erosion and cracking. The remediation lasted until 2019.

In a statement to AGBI, Ewen McDonald, chief customer officer at Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace, pointed out that 56 customers have so far chosen to order or operate the Airbus A350 aircraft and Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine combination and it has “a strong order book pipeline”.

“The Trent XWB-97 is the only new-generation high-thrust engine in service and has proven its reliability and durability over five years of service and more than two million EFHs [engine flight hours] – this is set to increase to more than 5 million by 2025,” he said.

EgyptAir revealed an order for 10 Airbus A350-900 aircraft, powered by Rolls Royce XWB Trent engines, which will be delivered from 2025 through to 2027.

Scherer added that the commitment is there from “prestigious carriers like EgyptAir” for the Airbus A350 aircraft “with its formidable XWB engines”.

The A350 is capable of flying ultra-long-haul routes up to 18,000km.

EgyptAir group chairman and CEO Yehia Zakaria said the deal would be funded by the company itself. He described the order as a “new milestone” for the carrier, which was founded in 1932.

EgyptAir earlier this month announced new routes to Manchester, England, starting next July, and Delhi in India, from next August. These follow the recent additions of the Dhaka route to Bangladesh and New Jersey in North America.

On Monday, Zakaria said the state-owned carrier will need to increase its fleet size by almost a third to cope with demand, and planned to operate 125 aircraft by 2028.

The company recently announced a lease agreement with US-based Air Lease Corporation covering 18 Boeing 737-8s. Deliveries of the aircraft are scheduled from 2025.

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