Rolls-Royce powers on with £1.1bn Chinese deal

Rolls-Royce has landed a $1.8bn (£1.1bn) order from Air China – a second major deal in the last fortnight that offers a welcome respite from concerns over safety.

The Air China order follows the $1.2bn deal with China Eastern that concluded a high-profile British trade mission led by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, earlier this month.

The two large orders come against a backdrop of concerns over safety after two separate incidents involving Rolls-Royce engine failures .

Under the Air China deal, Rolls-Royce will supply and service Trent WXB engines for 10 Airbus A350 XWBs and Trent 700 engines for another 10 Airbus A330s. The A330s are set to be delivered from 2013 and the A350s from 2018.

Steve Miller, the company's civil aerospace vice president in China, said: "We are very proud that Air China has again put their trust in us."

Rolls-Royce now accounts for 56 per cent of China's large civil aerospace engine market, and globally the company has won more than $4.5bn of orders for the T700 since July.

But it has been a difficult month for Rolls-Royce. First, one of its Trent 900 engines – powering an A380 superjumbo blew apart shortly after take-off, forcing the Qantas plane into an emergency landing. The following day a second Qantas jet – a Boeing 747 – was also forced to land after a problem with its RB211-524, one of Rolls-Royce's most-established engines.

The company has now isolated the component that caused the problem with the T900 and is reviewing all 20 of the A380s in service using its engines. Although Qantas has grounded its six A380s, the other two airlines with the planes – Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines – are still flying them.

Rolls-Royce insists safety is its top priority. The kind of "uncontained failure" seen in the A380 engine is extremely rare and has not happened since 1994, it says.

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