Rolls-Royce gets ready to test UltraFan engine


Rolls-Royce is preparing to test its UltraFan engine after completing the building of the technology demonstrator.

In a major milestone for the program, the UltraFan engine was transported earlier this month from the workshop and into Testbed 80 in Derby, UK where it was mounted in preparation for testing.

The first test of the demonstrator is expected to take place early next year and will be operated using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

Chris Cholerton, president of civil aerospace for Rolls-Royce said, “Seeing the UltraFan demonstrator come together and getting ready for test in Testbed 80 is a great way to end the year. We have all been waiting for this moment, which is such an important milestone for the program and for the team who have worked on it.

“The next stage will be to see UltraFan run for the first time on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel in 2023, proving the technology is ready to support more sustainable flight in the future.”

The UltraFan demonstrator has a fan diameter of 140 inches and offers a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of Trent engine, says Rolls-Royce.

Rolls-Royce plans to use technologies from the UltraFan development program to current Trent engines to deliver enhanced fuel efficiency and reductions in emissions. In the longer term, UltraFan’s scalable technology from ~25,000-110,000lb thrust delivers the potential to further improve fuel efficiency of both narrowbody and widebody aircraft by up to 10%.

Testbed 80, which the UK-engine manufacturer claims is the world’s largest and smartest testbed, was designed and built especially to accommodate the size and technical complexity of the UltraFan demonstrator. It was opened in 2020 and has already completed many hours of experimental engine testing.

The UltraFan technology demonstrator program has been supported by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, the EU’s Clean Sky programs plus LuFo and the State of Brandenburg in Germany.

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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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