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Air Tanzania Boeing 787 has remained grounded in Malaysia since November 2023 

An Air Tanzania Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner that was sent to Malaysia for maintenance in November 2023 remains in the Asian country after corrosion issues were discovered with the aircraft’s two Rolls-Royce engines.  

According to reports in local media, the aircraft involved (registered 5H-TCJ) has been grounded for almost eight months and is currently sitting without engines close to the disused low-cost carrier terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL).  

The engines that were fitted to the aircraft before its maintenance input in Malaysia were Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-AE3 engines, according to ch-aviation. This variant of the Trent 1000 series engine has encountered persistent challenges attributed to fatigue induced by corrosion since it was introduced into service. This corrosion has subsequently led to the emergence of cracks in the mid-pressure turbine spools which present considerable risks of engine malfunction inflight as well as on the ground.  

This deficiency means that the engine type involved has reduced inspection intervals from 200 flights to 80 flights, which causes maintenance costs to increase substantially for operators while reducing the operational availability of the aircraft for flying duties.   

“The plane was taken to Malaysia for mandatory maintenance in November 2023. This is why it appears to be missing both engines,” said Ladilaus Matindi, Air Tanzania’s Director General speaking to The Citizen newspaper. “Due to the high number of engines requiring mandatory maintenance and the scarcity of rental engines, aircraft often have to wait for their turn for engine maintenance to arrive and be completed.” 

Matindi added that having been sitting on the ground in Malaysia since November 2023, the aircraft is due to complete its maintenance work in early June 2024 and will subsequently return to Dar es Salaam to resume flying for Air Tanzania. He did not, however, disclose how much the extended grounding had cost the carrier or had affected its operations in the meantime. 

Commenting on media reports surrounding the grounded ATCL aircraft, Matindi highlighted concerns regarding the design of the Rolls-Royce engines. “There appears to be a design flaw with Rolls-Royce engines, warranting further investigation into the matter,” he remarked. 

Delivered to the company in July 2018 at a cost of $224.6 million, the 787-8 Dreamliner was one of four aircraft to be purchased by the Tanzanian government to modernize and rejuvenate its national carrier. It has one other of the type in active service with the remaining two still on order. 

The airline currently operates a fleet of 15 aircraft comprising four A220-300s, two 737-MAX 9s, a single 767-300F, plus the two 787-8s. The airline also operates six DHC-8 turboprops used for regional services. 

Kelvin Mwanasoko / Wikimedia Commons

Adding to the company’s woes, in October 2022, the carrier grounded three of its four Airbus A220-300 twin jets after they developed technical issues with their Pratt & Whitney engines warranting extended inspections. Although one has since returned to service, the remaining three remain grounded.   

Additionally, the carrier’s sole DHC-8-Q300 has been in Malta for maintenance reasons since 2020. It has been grounded for three years after a major malfunction meant it had to be withdrawn from service. However, the extended layover in Malta was due to awaiting a replacement landing gear and other parts which have been difficult to source, according to the career. This aircraft is also due to return to Tanzania in June 2024.  

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