Skip to main content

Rolls-Royce lands $1.8B contract with Air China for aircraft engines

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The contract involves Trent XWB and Trent 700 engines for 20 Airbus aircraft
  • Rolls-Royce has a 56 percent share for large civil aero engines in China
  • The company says a component failure caused an oil fire and emergency landing this month
  • Rolls-Royce said the incident was "specific to the Trent 900 engine"

(CNN) -- Rolls-Royce has won a contract worth $1.8 billion from Air China for engines for 20 new aircraft, the power systems company announced Monday.

Rolls-Royce will provide Trent XWB engines for Airbus A350 XWBs and Trent 700 engines for Airbus A330s, the company's website states.

"The Chinese market is fast growing with a clear need for additional aircraft capacity," the company said. "Rolls-Royce is well established in China, where it now enjoys a 56 percent share for large civil aero engines."

He Li, senior vice president of Air China, said the airline has selected Rolls-Royce engines several times in the past.

"We look forward to bringing the Trent XWB into service with our airline to provide us with fuel-efficient power for the A350 XWB and adding to our Trent 700-powered fleet," He said, according to Rolls-Royce's website.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Rolls-Royce said the failure of a component in its Trent 900 engine caused an oil fire that forced the emergency landing of a Qantas Airways flight in Singapore on November 4. The airline grounded its Airbus A380 fleet after part of the plane's engine cover fell off in flight.

Rolls-Royce has said the incident was "specific to the Trent 900 engine."

Qantas revealed this month that oil leaks were discovered in the engines on three of its planes after being examined by Rolls-Royce engineers.

Aviation analyst Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the National Transportation Safety Board, said earlier this month on CNN's American Morning that he did not think the entire Trent line of engines was problematic, but said the finding was "concerning."

"All the carriers who fly the A380 put their engines through a check, and it is disturbing that Qantas found three more engines that needed to be looked at," he said. "That's a total of four. This is a relatively ... young aircraft. These engines have probably less than 200,000 total hours, so it is an issue that we need to be concerned about."

Dan Thisdell of has told CNN that many airlines take comfort in having a single supplier of engines for all aircraft they fly because it provides with maintenance, spares and training for mechanics.

"No one has a better reputation than Rolls-Royce," Thisdell said. "Many airlines will order Rolls-Royce engines as a matter of course because they've had first rate service from them for years."

In August, another Rolls-Royce engine -- a Trent 1000 -- suffered an uncontained failure during testing in England. This particular model is designed to power Boeing's latest commercial aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner.

Rolls-Royce has said that the Trent 1000 issue was not connected to the Qantas Trent 900 incident.

"This incident happened during a development program with an engine operating outside normal parameters," the company said in a statement. "We understand the cause and a solution has been implemented."