Rolls-Royce predicts 2022 flying hours 10% above 2019


Rolls-Royce Pearl 15

Rolls-Royce anticipates business aviation flying hours to be 2% above 2019 levels in 2021 and increase to 10% above the 2019 level in 2022, a spokesperson from the jet-enginer maker told Corporate Jet Investor.

While the company did not specify the impacts on its business aviation sector, its financial results for 2020 show that the impact has not been as strong as the civil aerospace and regional fleet. The spokesperson said that business aviation long-term service agreement (LTSA) engine flying hours were resilient.

“In a severe but plausible downside scenario, we still assume business aviation flying hours to be 1% above 2019 level in 2021 and increase to 8% above 2019 level in 2022.”

Using figures based on yearly averages, Rolls-Royce said flying hours of widebody aircraft are assumed to be 55% of 2019 level in 2021 recovering to 80% of 2019 level in 2022.

“Overall, we saw steady recovery in 2020 from the April low point through to December, before pausing due to renewed travel restrictions. As for the commercial market, we expect business aviation flying hours to increase further in the second half of this year,” said the spokesperson.

£4bn loss in 2020

The forecast follows recent news of the £4bn ($5.5bn) loss made in 2020 due to effects of the pandemic on the aviation industry. CEO Warren East said the company expects to burn through a further £2bn this year but hopes that revenue will return to 2019 levels by 2022. It is targeting £750m in free cash flow in the same time frame.

“The worst is behind us as far as Covid is concerned,” he said. “There is cause to be optimistic about a V-shaped recovery.”

The loss in 2020 compares with £583m in profits from the year before. Losses before tax for 2020 were £2.9bn, including £1.4bn in write-offs and nearly £500m in redundancy costs.

Rolls tried to generate cash by cutting 7,000 jobs out of 19,000 across its global civil aerospace division.

Net zero

In an effort to move towards a net zero future, Rolls also announced its first commercial deal in the urban air mobility market (UAM), to develop electric motors for the eVTOL company Vertical Aerospace.

Vertical’s eVTOL VA-X4 will be capable of carrying four passengers over 120 miles at speeds of about 200mph.

“Rolls-Royce will design the system architecture of the whole electrical propulsion system, the electric power system that includes our latest 100kW-class lift and push electrical propulsion units, the power distribution and the monitoring system that will support operations,” said Rolls-Royce.

Rolls anticipates Vertical Aerospace will certify its prototype in 2024 and has 150 engineers across the globe supporting the programme.

The company also announced a partnership with manufacturer Tecnam to develop an all-electric passenger aircraft for Scandinavian regional airline Widerøe.