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"Turkish Airlines as the Largest Operator of Rolls- Royce’s Trent XWB Engines Worldwide"

Issue 22 - 2024

An exclusive interview with Görkem Kiriş- Country Director at Rolls-Royce & Scott Holland- VP Marketing - Regional Marketing at Rolls-Royce

 Aviation Turkey: First of all, thank you for sparing time for our readers. Can we start our interview by taking a brief analysis of 2023 from Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace’s point of view? Could you provide a capsule summary of your major activities carried out during 2023 and elaborate on your targets for 2024? 

Gorkem Kiris: 2023 was a golden year for Rolls-Royce for sales and it was the most active year we have ever seen outside of a new aircraft launch. Recent significant wins in 2023 include Turkish Airlines and Delta Air Lines. I am particularly delighted that our order from Turkish Airlines is part of this story, selecting 70 x Airbus A350 aircraft that are powered exclusively by our Trent XWB-84 and Trent XWB-97 engines. This has a particular significance to us at Rolls-Royce as it will make Turkish Airlines the world’s largest operator of the Trent XWB, when this selection is added to the 40 x Airbus A350s it already has in service or on order. This agreement therefore represents a significant milestone in our journey.

We also saw some significant selections of the Trent XWB-84 and Trent XWB-97 from Air India, EVA and Cathay Airlines last year. Overall, our large engine flying hours continued to recover in 2023 – our latest financial results confirmed they are now 88% of 2019 levels, compared with 65% in 2022.

Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, our focus will be on making sure that, as an industry, we can deliver in terms of new deliveries and Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) so that our customers can capitalise on the growth in demand we expect to continue from 2023. 

 Aviation Turkey: Turkish Airlines selected your Trent 700 engines to power A330 aircraft for the first time in 2009, and since then your long-term partnership with Turkish Airlines has continue to grow and develop. Can you elaborate on the current status of your cooperation with both Turkish Airlines and other Turkish airline operators? How many orders have you secured so far for the Rolls-Royce engines from Turkish airline operators and how many of them have been delivered so far to end users?  

Gorkem Kiris: Türkiye has been identified as a strategically significant market in which we are cultivating strong, long-term partnerships. Hence, we are committed to doing our best to support Turkish Airlines and other Turkish operators to reach their full potential.

As you stated, our journey with Turkish Airlines started back in 2009 when they first selected our Trent 700 engines to power their Airbus A330 aircraft. Our esteemed partnership based on trust and mutual benefit has consistently progressed since that time with the subsequent orders of Airbus A350 aircraft equipped with Trent XWB engines. Today, we have roughly 55% market share of Turkish Airlines`s wide-body fleet including in service and on order. Turkish Airlines is currently operating Rolls-Royce Trent 700 powered 27 x Airbus A330s and Rolls-Royce Trent XWB powered 16 x Airbus A350s (94 x Airbus A350s is on order). Additionally, Rolls-Royce Trent 700 powered 1 x Airbus A330, Rolls-Royce Trent 500 powered 1 x Airbus A340 and BR710 and Tay powered Gulfstream G450 & G550 Business Jets are being used for VIP operations. The strength of our fleet at Turkish Airlines highlights the reliability and performance of our engines and demonstrates Turkish Airlines's confidence in our product & technology.

We also established strong ties with other Turkish operators and secured several orders for Rolls-Royce engines from them, contributing to the growth and modernization of their fleets. Today, MNG Airlines operates a fleet of Rolls-Royce Trent 700 powered Airbus A330s for their cargo operations. 

Our long-standing partnership with both Turkish Airlines, MNG Airlines and other Turkish operators demonstrate our commitment to delivering outstanding engine technology and comprehensive support services. We are excited to further enhance these partnerships and continue to drive innovation in the aviation industry with our new generation Trent engines. We hope to continue our partnership with the airline customers in the region by providing our new technologies and services.

Aviation Turkey: On December 15, 2023, Rolls-Royce announced that Turkish Airlines ordered 50 x A350-900s and 20 x A350-1000s & A350F Cargo aircraft to be delivered between 2025 and 2033. Have you so far secured a formal contract for these engines? What can you tell us about the importance of this order for both Rolls-Royce and Türkiye? 

Gorkem Kiris: As I outlined above, Turkish Airlines ordered 70 x Airbus A350 aircraft (100 x Trent XWB-84 engines and 40 x Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines) from Airbus in December 2023 and we, as Rolls-Royce, are targeting to sign Total Care Service contract with Turkish Airlines shortly. 

In terms of the importance of this order, it represents a historic milestone for Rolls-Royce and Turkish Airlines as it has positioned Turkish Airlines as the largest operator of Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB engines worldwide. It further demonstrates Turkish Airlines’s determination to continue to improve its operational capabilities but also its commitment to reaching its sustainability goals. Our Trent XWB is the most efficient large engine in service today and that fuel burn reduction also results in reduced emissions. We are grateful for Turkish Airlines`s commitment and trust placed in Rolls-Royce.

 Aviation Turkey: You have faced some criticism of Trent XWB-97 durability and time on wing by particular operators. Can you elaborate on the Trent XWB-97’s durability and time-on-wing performance? What can you tell us about Rolls-Royce efforts focusing on major improvements to the Trent XWB-97 engine?

Scott Holland: We are investing around £1bn on technology improvements to our Trent 1000, Trent 7000 and Trent XWB-84 and Trent XWB-97 engines to improve availability, reliability and efficiency.

If we turn to the Trent XWB-97, the engine already provides all the thrust required to power the A350-1000. In terms of durability and time-on-wing, we have a staged programme of technology insertions that take us to 2028, and by then, in the harshest of conditions, we are going to double time on wing. In benign conditions which will apply to Turkish Airlines, this will improve time-on-wing by 50%, and this will address airline requirements for greater durability.

Aviation Turkey: Along with turbofan engines, Rolls-Royce also provides Total Care services to Turkish Airlines. Can you elaborate on your Total Care service agreement which enables proactive management of engine servicing? What can you tell us about the status of your negotiations with Turkish Airlines for the engine maintenance services and spare engines for the wide-body A350 aircraft?

Gorkem Kiris: Our Total Care service is designed to provide operational certainty for customers by transferring time on wing and maintenance cost risk back to Rolls-Royce. This industry-leading premium service offering is supported by data delivered through the Rolls-Royce advanced engine health monitoring system, which helps providing customers with increased operational availability, reliability and efficiency. Our existing Trent engines at Turkish Airlines fleet are already covered by Total Care services. The new Trent XWB engines that will power Turkish Airlines’s 70 x Airbus A350 aircraft will be supported by this comprehensive service once the contract is signed. 

 Aviation Turkey: In April 2018, Turkish Airlines selected GEnx-13 Engines for its B787 Dreamliner (25+5) aircraft but for its new B787 Dreamliner aircraft THY is also evaluating other candidates including the Trent 1000 of Rolls-Royce, which has been designed and optimized specifically to power the Boeing 787 Dreamliner family of aircraft. Can you briefly introduce Trent 1000 turbofan engine to our readers? Where do you see the strong points Trent 1000 Engine and how does it differ from its competitors? 

Scott Holland: Capitalising on the three-shaft architecture of the Trent engine family and incorporating the latest in materials, component and subsystem design and technology, the Trent 1000 was specifically designed and optimised to power the more-electric 787 Dreamliner. It has the highest bypass ratio of any engine in the Trent family and is recognised for being one of the quietest widebody engines in service today. The Trent 1000 powered Boeing 787 Dreamliner is 20% more efficient than the Boeing 767 aircraft it replaces, and the three-shaft architecture of the Trent 1000 complements other key component designs to deliver exceptional fuel burn performance retention in service. 

Since entry into service in 2011, we have been continuously improving both the fuel efficiency and the capability of the Trent 1000, our latest Durability Enhancement package for the Trent 1000 TEN will more than double engine time on wing. Phase 1 of our Durability Enhancement package for the Trent 1000 TEN has achieved engine certification by EASA and we are working with Boeing and the FAA to achieve aircraft certification towards the end of 2024. A second package of hot-section enhancements will deliver a further improvement in time on wing of up to 30% and available from 2026.

We are confident that with these product improvements, combined with our industry leading Total Care service package, we are able to deliver a compelling value proposition for Turkish Airlines. 

 Aviation Turkey: How is Rolls-Royce addressing the future of commercial aviation? What innovative technology areas will Rolls-Royce focus on in the near term? 

Scott Holland: In the near term, there are two technology areas where we have made great strides, in terms of developing engine technology and the use of 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). At the end of last year, we announced that we had successfully run our UltraFan® technology demonstrator to maximum power at our facility in Derby, United Kingdom. 

This achievement reinforces our confidence in the suite of technologies that have been developed as part of the UltraFan programme. Confirming this capability is a big step towards improving the efficiency of current and future aero-engines as UltraFan delivers a 10% efficiency improvement over our Trent XWB, which is already the world’s most efficient large aero-engine in service. In total, that’s a 25% efficiency gain since the launch of the first Trent engine.

UltraFan’s scalable technology, from ~25,000-110,000lb thrust, also offers the potential to power the new narrowbody and widebody aircraft anticipated in or beyond the 2030s.

As part of the UltraFan development programme, we have identified a number of technologies that are potentially transferable to our current Trent engines, which will provide our customers with even greater availability, reliability and efficiency.

 Aviation Turkey: Nowadays aviation industry invests in a future with zero carbon projects. Can you inform our readers about Rolls Royce’s ongoing zero carbon projects?

Scott Holland: At Rolls-Royce, our aim is to establish a sustainable business model by achieving net zero carbon emissions in our operations by 2030. The major aspects of our efforts towards net zero of our products focuses on SAF and UltraFan® technology. Therefore, our strategy for achieving net zero in aviation involves enhancing engine efficiency, promoting SAF utilization and pioneering innovative propulsion technologies. 

The initial stage of the UltraFan test was conducted using 100% SAF. Last year, we had successfully completed compatibility testing of 100% SAF on all of our in-production civil aero engine types. A ground test on a BR710 business jet engine in Canada completed the test regime. Other engines tested as part of the programme were: Trent 700, Trent 800, Trent 900, Trent 1000, Trent XWB-84, Trent XWB-97, Trent 7000, BR725, Pearl 700, Pearl 15 and Pearl 10X. Testing has involved a variety of ground and flight tests to replicate in-service conditions. All tests confirmed the use of 100% SAF does not affect engine performance. The development of highly efficient engines and the increased use of SAF are critical elements of the aviation industry’s journey to net zero.

Aviation Turkey: Can you elaborate on Rolls-Royce’s efforts and projects that focused on safe and sustainable aerospace? How would you summarize Rolls-Royce’s ongoing sustainability projects with global partners? Do you believe that biofuels/SAF will have an important role to play in aviation?

Gorkem Kiris: We do believe SAF will have an important role to play in aviation and we also understand this cannot be achieved by one organization alone. Biofuels and SAF offer the potential for substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Incorporating biofuels and SAF into aviation operations can help mitigate climate change by lowering CO2 emissions. 

SAF is regarded as a promising solution in the aviation industry's pursuit of greater sustainability. As technology progresses and production methods become more efficient, these fuels are becoming more economically viable and scalable, making them increasingly appealing for widespread adoption in the aviation sector. Our testing of 100% SAF on our in-production engines, as outlined above, has been the result of great teamwork with fuel producers, airframers and academics. 

We hope the success of these tests provides a level of technical validation that supports those who seek to invest in the production of 100% SAF going forward.

Aviation Turkey: Within the scope of Istanbul Airshow on October 7, 2022 the SAF Declaration Signing Ceremony was held with the participation of Turkish Airlines, Rolls-Royce and Airbus. By signing the Global SAF Declaration with Rolls-Royce and Airbus, Turkish Airlines  pledged to increase its usage of SAF to the highest. Can you elaborate on the goals of SAF Declaration and importance of Turkish Airlines’s joining Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Safran in the Global SAF Declaration as one of the co-signatories? What kind of cooperation will be established among the companies under this signature?

Gorkem Kiris: The Global SAF Declaration is a commitment aimed at advancing the development, production and utilization of SAF. This declaration signifies a collaborative effort among stakeholders in the aviation, aerospace, and fuel industries to reduce carbon emissions. It is open to all airlines, aviation, and aerospace organizations andserves as a supplementary pledge to their existing sustainability initiatives.  

As you mentioned, THY became the newest member of the signatories in 2022, marking a significant milestone. Participation in the Global SAF Declaration underscores Turkish Airlines's dedication to environmentally friendly alternatives within its operations and emission reduction efforts. 

The collaboration among Turkish Airlines, Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Safran under this declaration encompasses efforts across the aviation value chain. This includes adapting aircraft and engines for SAF blends, investing in SAF production, maximizing SAF usage in airline networks, adjusting airport infrastructure and researching advanced emission reduction technologies. The declaration emphasizes the importance of setting clear and achievable objectives within each organization to expedite SAF adoption. Collaboration with industry bodies, initiatives and governmental programs is crucial to facilitating widespread and prompt SAF adoption, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the aviation sector.

Aviation Turkey: Would you like to add anything in the way of a message for our readers?

Gorkem Kiris: Turkish Airlines has been on an extraordinary growth journey, continuing to connect people from all over the world – evolving from a passenger base of 10 million in 2002 to more than 82 million last year. We are very impressed with Turkish Airlines`s remarkable global market penetration and fully committed to support its future wide-body acquisition with our new generation Trent engines. 

Personally, the continuous growth of our esteemed relationship with Turkish Airlines makes me very proud and I know everyone in our team will be excited to support the new A350s operations as our engines are delivered.

We continue to seek to be a high-performing, competitive, resilient and growing company that can deliver best product and services for our customers 

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