MIAMI — Rolls-Royce has run the world’s most powerful aerospace gearbox for the first time, marking what the UK-based engine manufacturer describes as “a significant step” in the development of its new UltraFan engine design.
UltraFan, the newest model in the Trent family engine, is expected to enter into service in 2025, delivering a 25% fuel burn improvement over the first generation of Trent engines, the company said.
“This is another significant step in bringing our future technology to life. We launched the UltraFan design in 2014 and now we are putting our new infrastructure to work to turn it into reality,” said Mike Whitehead, Rolls-Royce, Chief Engineer and Head of Program UltraFan Technologies, Civil Aerospace.
Rolls-Royce and Liebherr-Aerospace established a 50:50 joint venture to develop manufacturing capability and capacity for the power gearbox. Rolls-Royce is in charge of the design definition and integration of the component, as well as the testing program.
The first run of the Rolls-Royce Power Gearbox (PGB) took place on Rolls-Royce’s Altitude Rig at the company’s facility in Dahlewitz, Germany. There, engineers simulate the effects of the gearbox being on the wing of an aircraft that is climbing after take-off, coming in to land or banking while in flight.
According to the company, the initial run confirmed rig dynamics and oil system functionality at low pressures and speeds.
More advanced testing will take place during the rest of the year to provide additional data on low-power high-speed combinations at various pitch and roll angles and at different simulated altitudes. High power testing will take place next year on the PGB Power Rig where the gearbox will reach full power.
The UltraFan design features a new engine core architecture, carbon/titanium fan blades and composite and ceramic components, designed to deliver improved efficiency power for future high-trust, high-bypass ratio engines.