Air Tanzania (TC, Dar es Salaam) has blamed a shortage of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 replacement engines for the six-month grounding of one of its B787-8s in Malaysia, but the engine replacement was now proceeding, and 5H-TCJ (msn 66133) was expected to return to Tanzania at the beginning of June.

A Rolls-Royce spokesperson confirmed that "Air Tanzania's Trent 1000 engines had a planned shop visit and are now serviceable and available".

In a statement on social media, CEO Ladislaus Matindi said the aircraft remained grounded for the extended period during mandatory engine maintenance in Kuala Lumpur International due to the unavailability of spares to replace those undergoing repairs. He also mentioned that the engines had to wait for a maintenance slot due to the high volume of engines in line for maintenance, prolonging the aircraft's downtime. According to ch-aviation fleets data, the aircraft is fitted with the engine subtype Trent 1000-AE3.

ADS-B data shows the plane was ferried from Dar es Salaam to Guangzhou on August 12 last year, and onwards to Kuala Lumpur International on November 9, where it has been ever since.

"According to the guidelines of the [civil] aviation authorities and the engine manufacturers, it has become necessary to perform major overhauls on these engines after every 1,000 cycles. This is following the discovery of design flaws in the power generation systems of many engines in the new models," Matindi's statement said.

According to well-informed sources, the aircraft was undergoing other maintenance and servicing before the engines could be reattached. The airline came under pressure from the local media after the aircraft was photographed in Malaysia with its engines missing. Matindi denied a report by Tanzania's The Citizen newspaper that 5H-TCJ had been abandoned in Malaysia after it was sent for major C checks. He clarified that heavy maintenance of Air Tanzania's B787-8s was conducted at its MRO facility at Kilimanjaro every three years or every 12,000 flight cycles.

He said that the B787-8s had each undergone heavy maintenance once since arriving in Tanzania: 5H-TCG (msn 64249), delivered in July 2018, was repaired in 2021, and 5H-TCJ, which arrived in 2019, was overhauled in 2022. The airline has a third -8 on order, expected for delivery later this year.

According to ch-aviation fleets data, Air Tanzania's B787-8 is the only one of its type with the AE3 engine variant that is currently grounded. At least fifty B787s with Trent 1000 engines from 16 airlines worldwide are currently either in maintenance or stored, but this does not necessarily mean the engines are at fault.

The Trent 1000 engine, designed for the Boeing B787 Family of aircraft, has faced several issues since its entry into service in 2011. The primary problem has been related to the intermediate pressure turbine (IPT) blades, which have experienced cracking due to a chemical process called sulphurisation. Rolls-Royce has addressed these problems through design changes, improved manufacturing processes, and expanded MRO capabilities.