Rolls-Royce Product Redesign Doubles Operating Time

Rolls-Royce is planning to invest in blade coatings of A350-1000 engines to improve durability and resilience.

This coating will be especially effective for aircraft  operating in areas with lots of sand and dust. The company is working with Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to certify the new blade for the engine to double its time-on-wing.

Video Spotlight:  

This post is based on the FlightGlobal article, Rolls-Royce aims to double time-on-wing for A350-1000 engines operating in sandy conditions, by David Kaminski-Morrow, February 22, 2024, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Markus Schmal/

Discussion Questions:

1. What is product life cycle management?  Illustrate the concept with the use of the Rolls-Royce case.

Guidance: Product life cycle management is a systematic approach to managing changes in a product from conception to end of life.  In Rolls-Royce’s case, its A350-1000 aircraft engines are designed to last a specific “time-on-wing”.  However, it was found that when operating in areas with lots of sand and dust, a redesign of the engine could achieve a higher measure of “time-on-wing”, leading to refitting the engine with new blades with a special coating.

2. What is product reliability? Explain how Rolls-Royce designs its engine blades for reliability.

Guidance: Reliability is a measure of a product’s ability to perform its intended function under a prescribed set of conditions. When Rolls-Royce designed their engine for aircraft, it was intended to function in non-dusty, non-sandy environments.

Concerns from customers in the Middle East that the engine does not fare well in areas with lots of sand and dust led Rolls-Royce to redesign the engine for higher reliability, required in the Middle East market.

3. How does Rolls-Royce’s blade coating investment address the issue of robust design?

Guidance: Rolls-Royce’s aircraft engine was originally designed to function in non-dusty environments.  By investing in a new blade coating, Rolls-Royce is able to increase its engine’s robustness allowing it to perform as designed over a broader range of conditions including areas of lots of sand and dust, such as in the Middle East.

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