In an unexpected move, Singapore Airlines has withdrawn a number of nearly new Boeing 787-10 aircraft from operational service, with six out of nine aircraft (two thirds of the fleet) now grounded at Changi due to identified engine issues.
SIA’s Boeing 787-10 aircraft all use the latest Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 TEN engines, an improved version which started flying on some of Scoot’s 787s in November 2017, following well documented issues with premature blade cracking in the former model Trent 1000 engines.
While Singapore Airlines has not stated the reason for the 787-10 grounding, a source close to the matter confirmed to us the issue is related to high pressure turbine cracks detected in some of the Rolls-Royce Trent TEN engines fitted to these aircraft.
That’s bad news for Rolls-Royce and other operators with the TEN engines globally, as the same issues are now likely to arise for these airlines.
Singapore Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 787-10 in March last year.
Problems apparently began on Saturday morning (30th March) in Nagoya, Japan, after 9V-SCD landed there on a routine flight from Singapore as SQ672.
Whatever transpired, -SCD was apparently rendered uncertified to carry passengers, and it was flown empty back to Singapore. A 777-200ER (9V-SVC) was despatched from Singapore operating empty to Nagoya, which then flew the stranded passengers back to Changi nearly 10 hours behind schedule.
Since then 9V-SCD has not flown, and has been joined by a number of other 787-10 aircraft parked up at Changi.
The list at 12pm Singapore Time on 2nd April 2019, according to FlightRadar24, now includes:
- 9V-SCA: On ground in Singapore since 31st March / 11.38pm
- 9V-SCB: On ground in Singapore since 1st April / 3.13pm
- 9V-SCC: On ground in Singapore since 28th March / 11.57pm
- 9V-SCD: On ground in Singapore since 30th March / 8.16pm
- 9V-SCE: On ground in Singapore since 1st April / 12.42am
- 9V-SCF: On ground in Singapore since 1st April / 4.49pm
- 9V-SCG: En-route Singapore to Bali
- 9V-SCH: En-route Tokyo-Narita to Singapore
- 9V-SCI: En-route Osaka-Kansai to Singapore
Only the newest three of the nine aircraft in the 787-10 fleet are currently operating. 9V-SCC has been grounded the longest, since Thursday last week, and it may be that aircraft on which the issue was first detected.
Update 3rd April 2019, 8.45pm: Four SIA 787-10 aircraft remained grounded at Changi Airport today. Six out of 13 planned 787-10 flights departing Singapore were flown by other aircraft types. Five out of 13 planned 787-10 flights departing Singapore tomorrow (4th April) are already planned on other aircraft types.
A Mainly Miles reader told us yesterday they spotted this aircraft (SCC) on the cargo ramp at Changi with one of its engines having been removed from the wing.
The grounding is thought to be precautionary subject to further inspections, though it’s likely some engines will need to be replaced.
Any longer term withdrawal of these aircraft from the airline’s operating fleet may cause some disruption to the airline, especially with Scoot 787s potentially impacted too.
The situation couldn’t have come at a worse time for the group, with six of SilkAir’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft also grounded indefinitely as part of a worldwide precautionary measure. This has already necessitated some Singapore Airlines aircraft being used on additional Kuala Lumpur, Yangon and Brunei flights.
Yesterday’s ‘787’ flights (1st April)
- SQ656 (0120 to FUK). Operated by A330
- SQ672 (0120 to NGO). Operated by 777-300ER
- SQ618 (0125 to KIX). Operated by 787-10 (9V-SCF)
- SQ876 (0820 to TPE). Operated by A350 Regional
- SQ942 (0915 to DPS). Operated by A330
- SQ622 (1355 to KIX). Operated by 787-10 (9V-SCG)
- SQ872 (1430 to HKG). Operated by 777-200
- SQ186 (1725 to SGN). Operated by 777-200
- SQ982 (1730 to BKK). Operated by 787-10 (9V-SCH)
- SQ978 (1830 to BKK). Operated by 787-10 (9V-SCI)
- SQ215 (1845 to PER). Operated by 777-200
- SQ918 (1925 to MNL). Operated by 777-200
- SQ638 (2355 to NRT). Operated by 787-10 (9V-SCH)
Today’s ‘787’ flights (2nd April)
Seven of the 13 Singapore Airlines departures from Changi that were supposed to operate on the Boeing 787-10 today have been changed to either the Airbus A330 or Boeing 777-200.
- SQ656 (0120 to FUK). Operated by A330
- SQ672 (0120 to NGO). Operated by A330
- SQ618 (0125 to KIX). Operated by 787-10 (9V-SCI)
- SQ876 (0820 to TPE). Operated by A330
- SQ942 (0915 to DPS). Operated by 787-10 (9V-SCG)
- SQ622 (1355 to KIX). To be operated by A330
- SQ872 (1430 to HKG). To be operated by 777-200
- SQ186 (1725 to SGN). To be operated by 787-10
- SQ982 (1730 to BKK). To be operated by 787-10
- SQ978 (1830 to BKK). To be operated by 787-10
- SQ215 (1845 to PER). To be operated by A330
- SQ918 (1925 to MNL). To be operated by 777-200
- SQ638 (2355 to NRT). To be operated by 787-10
The 777-200s being used are non-ER variants, so unfortunately we’re talking the 2009 RJ seats in Business Class for all the substitutions.
Tomorrow’s ‘787’ flights (3rd April)
Aside from the SQ656 to Fukuoka, which will be operated by an A330, all these flights return to Boeing 787-10 service from tomorrow (3rd April) according to GDS.
That could mean SIA is confident in the fixes it is putting in place on the aircraft currently on the ground in Changi, but to us it’s more likely that they haven’t loaded the revised aircraft types into the system yet.
There is a good chance of additional aircraft substitutions from tomorrow onwards.
The impact on Scoot
Scoot already has a number of the TEN engines already installed on its Boeing 787 fleet. Unlike SIA’s 787-10’s, many Scoot engines are the former Trent 1000 variant.
Singapore Airlines can ‘borrow’ TEN engines from Scoot to support its own 787-10 fleet, but this is at the expense of the budget arm, which may then suffer operational impacts. Scoot has had its fair share of those lately, so this option is a delicate balance.
Currently at least two Scoot Boeing 787s appear to be grounded at Changi:
- 9V-OFD – Since 30th March / 2.41pm
- 9V-OJC – Since 10th March / 4.12am
If you’re booked on a Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 flight this month, it looks like there may be operational changes to the aircraft type used for your flight. For the most part, that’s bad news as it means the older 2009 RJ seats in Business Class.
Having said that a Boeing 787 Taipei flight was substituted with an A350 Regional yesterday, with the Nagoya service flown on the 777-300ER, so you may even get lucky.
Keep a close eye on the seat map for your flight as Singapore Airlines is updating the aircraft types on a short-term basis. If you have flexibility in your plans, you may wish to switch to a different flight or different date to avoid the older seats.
(Cover Photo: Boeing)