Virgin Atlantic finally has a functioning Boeing 787 fleet, after three years.
Cornonavirus has taken the focus of the airline industry away from Boeing and its 737MAX issues. The 737MAX had, itself, taken attention away from the other major aircraft mess of the last decade – the portion of the Boeing 787 fleet powered by faulty Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.
Virgin Atlantic was lucky in that the Boeing 787 accounted for ‘only’ 35% of its fleet. Norwegian was pushed to the edge of bankruptcy by its reliance on the Boeing 787 and Boeing 737MAX.
Last Saturday was the first day in almost three years that all 17 Boeing 787 aircraft operated by Virgin Atlantic were fit to fly.
According to a LinkedIn article this week by Virgin’s VP of Engineering & Maintenance:
there are still 24 Rolls-Royce powered Boeing 787 aircraft globally – operated by 10 different airlines – which are not allowed to fly
since 2015, Virgin Atlantic has performed 133 engine changes on its Boeing 787 fleet in an attempt to try different fixes, which is apparently 10x the number of engine changes undertaken on the A330 fleet
no engine has been changed fewer than three times
On the upside, the airline has got so good as changing Trent 1000 engines that the time taken has more than halved since the first of the 133 replacements was done!
Getting these aircraft back into the air has allowed Virgin Atlantic to accelerate the retirement of its Boeing 747 fleet in response to coronavirus. It also allows Virgin Atlantic to return its four ex-airberlin A330-200 aircraft in 2022, which were leased as temporary replacements for the Boeing 787 aircraft.
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