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Air New Zealand Halts Chicago Flights Citing Engine Support

Rolls-Royce Doesn't Have Replacement Units to Swap for Engines in Overhaul

The Rolls-Royce Trent engines powering Air New Zealand aircraft are now hampering their continued operation, with the carrier pausing all flights to Chicago, Illinois citing engine upkeep issues. 

The non-stop flights are one of the longer routes flown by the marque, heading deep into the 'enemy territory' of General Electric and Boeing. Their Boeing 787s are powered by the euro engine maker in place of the more American option, the GE GEnx. That's usually a solid choice given the worldwide support network enjoyed by Rolls-Royce throughout Air New Zealand stomping grounds..but it seemed to bite them this time around.

Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty said that they "continue to be impacted by challenges with the availability of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines," admitting the surprising fact that they will have a trio of aircraft grounded for "an extended period". The pause is currently expected to last through October 25 of this year. The company will refund, rebook, or credit affected customers.

"We know this will be disappointing for customers travelling to and from Chicago during this period, especially to those travelling over the upcoming April holiday break," apologized Geraghty. 

"It's not a decision we've made lightly and we're sorry to make this change so close to the time some customers plan to fly. We made the tough decision to temporarily pause the Chicago route while maintaining our schedule of up to 35 flights each week to six ports across the US and Canada, so there are still plenty of options to get to Chicago, the US, and beyond."

That's not a good thing to hear, but it's not too surprising. The Trent 1000 in particular has been a problem child for years now, once being the cause of more than 50 simultaneous Dreamliner groundings. Over the last 10 years, it's had its moments of particularly bad press, like a brief ban on transoceanic travel for such aircraft. This newest slate of engine issues pertains more to the painful process of ANZ maintainers having to send in their Trent 1000s to Rolls-Royce for maintenance... but they don't have any engines to swap out. ANZ even clarifies that they expected 1,000 cycles as a likely time frame between overhaul for the Trents, only to find that engines in service were needing them in 75% to 85% of that time span.

That throws everything out of alignment now, as the carrier has to send off its units and get nothing to install in their place.



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