Virgin Atlantic may not retire its four-engine Airbus A340 jets after all, due to ongoing engine trouble with its Boeing 787 fleet.
Virgin uses Rolls Royce engines on its 787s. These engines have been problematic for Virgin Atlantic (and other airlines like British Airways and Norwegian). The Trent 1000 engines require a heightened degree of maintenance, forcing Virgin Atlantic to frequently pull its 787 out of service for inspections and repairs.
Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss explained the issue in this way:
“It’s more treatment, changing some of the parts, the components, the blades inside and some of the fans and that is done by Rolls-Royce. The life that you expect to have in an engine before it needs to be inspected and treated is much shorter.”
With a fleet of 17 787, this has created a crunch on aircraft. Even though standard maintenance checks can be planned in advance, unplanned issues are frequent and create operational issues. Weiss added:
“I’m happy when they fly. We’re working diligently with our partners at Rolls-Royce and Boeing. I know they will sort it out but we are not happy with planes that are not flying.”
Virgin Atlantic May Delay A340 Retirement
Virgin planned to retire its entire fleet of A340 by the end of this year. But with the 787 still giving Virgin Atlantic problems, that retirement date might be pushed out further.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said:
“While no decisions have been made, due to ongoing supply issues with 787 Rolls-Royce engines, our A340-600s may remain flying a little longer than planned.”
Virgin Atlantic also has 12 A350-1000s on order, with deliveries spaced over the next two years, but still needs a stop-gap measure. It appears the A340 will serve that role.
I’ve reviewed both the A340-600 and the 787-9 in Upper Class. You can read my reviews below:
Thanks to trouble with the latter, we may continue to see the former for months…and perhaps even years…to come.
image: Aero Icarus / Wikimedia Commons