Rolls-Royce will start testing the UltraFan prototype this year

DERBY, England, July 18 (Reuters) – Rolls-Royce (RR.L) has announced that it will begin testing a prototype of its UltraFan engine, the world’s largest turbojet, this year which has been designed to be up to 25% more efficient than its first-generation Trent engines.

The demonstrator has a fan diameter of 140 inches, the largest viable size for the widebody sector, UltraFan chief engineer Andrew Geer told reporters at Rolls headquarters in central Derby. of England, ahead of the Farnborough International Airshow, which opens on Monday.

The technology could be reduced for other programs, he added, including any return of the British company to the narrow-body aircraft market.

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It will likely take years, however, as UltraFan will be “put on ice” after testing is complete, with no further investment until Boeing or Airbus launch a new aircraft program, chief executive Warren East told the Financial Times last year.

Geer said UltraFan was a platform for a range of technologies rather than a single engine, and many of its innovations could be used in Rolls’ existing programs.

For example, it has titanium carbon fan blades rather than the hollow titanium blades on existing Trents, and a record-breaking 64-megawatt gearbox.

He said the first trial will also use 100% sustainable aviation fuel from Air BP – derived from sources such as vegetable oils instead of fossil fuels.

Chris Cholerton, President of Civil Aerospace, said: “The suite of technologies we are testing on the demonstrator will create opportunities to improve our current fleet and provide new capabilities for future propulsion systems.”

As well as working to improve the efficiency of gas turbines, Rolls is working on nascent hydrogen and hybrid electricity technologies to power commuter and regional aircraft.

He said he plans platform and engine tests to prove that hydrogen can safely and efficiently power small and medium-sized aircraft from the mid-2030s.

The first will use liquid hydrogen to power an AE2100 engine this year, he said, with a test of the Pearl 15 engine to follow at an unspecified date.

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Editing by Mark Potter

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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