To cap off what must be one of its most miserable weeks since entering receivership in February 1971, Rolls-Royce ended Nov 5 with two more nightmares - another highly-publicized engine failure and an aggressive legal assualt from Pratt & Whitney.
In another twist of fate, the Nov 5 engine failure occurred on a Qantas 747-400 flight out of Singapore – just a day after the emergency landing there of one of the airline’s A380s following an uncontained Trent 900 failure. According to some unconfirmed reports, the RB.211-524G/T-powered 747 (operating flight QF6 from Singapore to Sydney) was carrying the flight crew of the A380 back to Australia.
Happier Days - the No.2 engine that failed - two years ago on a press flight on A380 VH-OQA over California (Guy Norris)
The same day Pratt & Whitney simultaneously brought legal action against Rolls in courts on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as with the International Trade Commission (ITC) in DC. The court action is an escalation of the on-going war between Pratt and Rolls over patent infringement with Rolls accusing Pratt of using patented fan design technology for the geared turbofan and GP7200. Pratt, in turn, not only defends its rights to patents for the same technology, but has expanded its counter suit attack to include alleged patent infringements over fan ‘function’ technology used in Rolls’ Trent 900, 1000 and XWB engines.
Papers served against Rolls in London's High Court on Nov 5. (Aviation Week)
Based on this latter patent law suit, Pratt is also asking the ITC to investigate the import of Trent 900/1000s into the U.S. The long term threat of the action, should it be upheld by the ITC, is to prohibit Rolls from importing engines to Boeing’s 787 production line. The package of unthinkable threats, which for the first time in the case of the U.K. High Court case include the A350’s Trent XWB engine, are evidently designed by Pratt to bring the British engine maker to the negotiating table. No doubt the lights will be burning late this weekend in Derby and at Rolls-Royce’s embattled Buckingham Gate HQ in London.