Rolls-Royce finds cracks in small number of Trent XWB engines

Britain’s Rolls-Royce (RR.L) will carry out extra inspections on some of its Trent XWB engines after cracks were found on a small number of them, in a further headache for the company whose finances have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Rolls-Royce sought to reassure investors and airline customers on Tuesday that the issue on some XWB engines, which powers the Airbus (AIR.PA) A350 plane, would not cause significant disruption for carriers or material cost.

Sources close to the matter said that the cost to Rolls would be in the low to mid tens of millions of pounds.

That makes it much less severe than the Trent 1000 issues, where problematic turbine blades on the engine which powers the Boeing (BA.N) 787 are set to cost the company 2.4 billion pounds ($3.1 billion) to fix over the 2017-2023 period.

The cost of fixing that problem comes as the pandemic heaps pressure on the company’s finances. It is looking at options to strengthen its balance sheet after planes stopped flying, cutting the revenues it receives from flying-hours.

Rolls said wear on the Trent XWB-84 engine will be subject to an Airworthiness Directive from regulator EASA, which is expected to be published on Wednesday.

The company pre-emptively issued its statement to address “potential speculation”.

Morgan Stanley analysts said that there was a high degree of sensitivity around the XWB given that the engine is important to Rolls’s future value, but its assessment was that the issues were not a major concern and it called them “benign”.

Shares in Rolls traded up 3% to 273 pence at 1109 GMT. The stock recently hit its lowest level for 11 years.

Rolls said that routine inspections had found the wear in one or two blades of the Intermediate Pressure Compressor in a small number of XWB engines which have been in service four to five years.

It said there were 100 such engines in service. None of the engines had experienced any abnormal in-flight operations and the issue had not been found on younger engines.