World's most powerful aerospace gearbox starts high power testing

UltraFan TestRolls-Royce has started power runs of the world's most powerful aerospace gearbox for the first time, marking another significant step in the development of its new UltraFan® engine design.

UltraFan, which will be available from 2025, will offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement over the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engine, with power scalable for widebody or narrowbody aircraft.

The gearbox is a vital component of the UltraFan design, offering efficient power over a wide range of thrust levels, the ability to drive larger fan sizes, while also reducing weight.

The tests are taking place at the Rolls-Royce Power Gearbox (PGB) facility in Dahlewitz, Germany, where the gearbox will ultimately run at up to 100,000 horsepower – the equivalent of more than 100 Formula 1 cars. The tests follow successful runs on an Attitude Rig last year.

Rolls-Royce engineering expertise in UltraFan delivers:

  • Maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions through a new engine core architecture
  • Reduced weight via a CTi Fan System of carbon/titanium fan blades and a composite casing
  • Increased efficiency through advanced ceramic matrix composites that are heat resistant and require less cooling air
  • Efficient power for high-bypass ratio engines of the future through a geared design

Mike Whitehead, Rolls-Royce, Chief Engineer and Head of Programme UltraFan Technologies, Civil Aerospace, said: "We are continuing to deliver on the UltraFan programme and this latest achievement marks another milestone. Having successfully started tests on the Attitude Rig last year we are now starting Power Rig tests and its really exciting to see our future technology come to life."

The Attitude Rig tests allow engineers to simulate the effects of the gearbox being on the wing of an aircraft in flight, through phases such as take-off, climb, descent and landing or banking.

Rolls-Royce is working in partnership with Liebherr-Aerospace, through our Aerospace Transmission Technologies joint venture, to develop manufacturing capability and capacity for the new power gearbox. Rolls-Royce leads the design definition and design integration of the power gearbox, as well as testing activities.

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

  • Rolls-Royce's vision is to be the market-leader in high performance power systems where our engineering expertise, global reach and deep industry knowledge deliver outstanding customer relationships and solutions. We operate across five businesses: Civil Aerospace, Defence Aerospace, Marine, Nuclear and Power Systems.
  • Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 4,000 marine customers including 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.
  • We have three common themes across all our businesses:
      • Investing in and developing engineering excellence
      • Driving a manufacturing and supply chain transformation which will embed operational excellence in lean, lower-cost facilities and processes
      • Leveraging our installed base, product knowledge and engineering capabilities to provide customers with outstanding service through which we can capture aftermarket value long into the future.
  • Annual underlying revenue was £13.8 billion in 2016, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services. The firm and announced order book stood at £80 billion at the end of 2016.
  • In 2016, Rolls-Royce invested £1.3 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 31 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.
  • Rolls-Royce employs 50,000 people in more than 46 countries. More than 16,000 of these are engineers.
  • The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills. In 2015 we employed 228 graduates and 277 apprentices through our worldwide training programmes.

For further information, please contact:
Bill O'Sullivan
Civil Aerospace Communications
Rolls-Royce plc
Tel +44 1332 246162
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