GKN delivers key component of Rolls-Royce Ultrafan for testing


GKN Aerospace in Sweden has successfully delivered the first Intermediate Compressor Case to the Rolls-Royce UltraFan engine demonstrator program for testing.

Ultrafan is Rolls-Royce’s next generation engine, which aims to offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared to engines currently in use.

The Intermediate Compressor Case (ICC) is a structure between the compressor cases and carries the rotor gas loads to the engine casing and thrust mounts.

UltraFan introduces a number of new technologies to Rolls-Royce’s aero-engine range including a new engine core architecture and a geared design.

Despite doubt being cast on the future of UltraFan earlier in the year because of the impact of the pandemic, the demonstrator program expects to conduct full engine ground testing during next year, with flight testing to follow.

Development and testing of the ICC will demonstrate and validate several new technologies, including a low-cost and robust sectorized fabrication concept that uses castings. The process makes use of an innovative welding method based on computer simulations.

The ICC also features an optimized bleed system for improved aerodynamics and acoustics, a shorter aggressive duct design. The 3D-printing of parts and model-based design methods are also being used in the development and manufacture of the engine.

The ICC has been developed and will be tested by GKN as part of the pan-European Clean Sky 2 aerospace research program. The company is a core partner in the Rolls-Royce led UltraFan engine demonstrator program.

Henrik Runnemalm, vice president of GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre in Sweden said, “The delivery of the UltraFan engine ICC to Rolls-Royce is a true milestone. It reaffirms the success of the Clean Sky2 collaboration program and we are excited to have implemented our latest sustainable technologies in the ICC’s development.”

GKN Aerospace’s development of manufacturing processes for the ICC has been supported in Sweden by the Vinnova funded IntDemo-project and the Västra Götaland Region.

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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