Because of the advanced technologies and the long development times (not to mention an extremely rigorous testing process), engine manufacturers are often already working on the next generation of design while seeing their brand new products entering the commercial fleet.
Rolls-Royce is well on the way to testing its “Advance” and “Ultrafan” engines. Utilising the latest technology and manufacturing processes, the new engines improve efficiency and drive down CO2 emissions by between 20-25% compared to Rolls-Royce’s first generation Trent series of engines.
A major contributor to the efficiency improvements expected with these engines is the utilisation of lightweight carbon/titanium composite fan blade technology. After considerable research and development, this new fan system technology completed flight testing this year. Large 3D printed structures which also save weight, are being flight tested this year.
In addition to the fan technology, Rolls-Royce’s new core architecture delivers higher efficiency from an increased overall pressure ratio of more than 60:1 in the Advance engine and 70:1 in the Ultrafan, far higher than previous models. Higher temperatures in the engine also contribute to higher efficiency, enabled by ceramic matrix composites.
The first Advance demonstrator engine is on build and due to go to test in late 2016 and parts for the Ultrafan will be ready for testing in early 2016, when the new power gearbox rig will also begin testing.