Rolls-Royce pulls out of Boeing NMA engine competition

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Rolls-Royce has withdrawn from the competition to power Boeing’s proposed New Midsize Airplane (NMA) because of concerns over the timeline.

Boeing’s NMA has been discussed in the industry for several years but has not been officially launched by the company.

The NMA, which is also referred to as the 797, will seat from 220 to 270 passengers and have a range of 5,000 nautical miles, industry experts predict. It has been reported that Boeing has had discussions with CFM, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce about the engine for the NMA.

But Rolls-Royce said in a statement issued last week that it is unable to supply the UltraFan jet engine to meet Boeing’s proposed NMA timetable and that withdrawing from Boeing’s NMA process will “enable us to have a high confidence in engine maturity towards the end of the next decade”.

The company had previously said that the UltraFan would be available from 2025. This would have fitted broadly with when industry experts believe Boeing’s proposed NMA will enter service.

Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, president – civil aerospace said, “This is the right decision for Rolls-Royce and the best approach for Boeing.

“We remain committed to the development of new technologies and will continue to mature and de-risk our next generation UltraFan engine architecture in preparation for future applications.

“We had begun its development before the Boeing opportunity emerged and it must undergo a rigorous testing regime before we offer it to customers, which we do not believe can be achieved within the NMA timeframe.

“Withdrawing at this stage will enable Boeing to structure the final part of the competition in a way that best suits.”

The testing of the core technologies for UltraFan started in 2016. Rolls-Royce engineers aim for Ultrafan to offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement over its first-generation of Trent engines through the use of composites, lean-burn technologies and a high-powered gearbox.

The engine will power either widebody or narrowbody aircraft.

Last week the company provided an update on the progress of Ultrafan’s development that revealed that the company’s engineers had successfully tested the engine’s Advanced Low Pressure System (ALPS). This includes the fan blades, a fan case and the annulus fillers.

Rolls-Royce said the testing of the ALPS is ongoing at its Derby, UK site.

 

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Ben has worked all of his career as a journalist and now editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry. In the last 16 years he has written on subjects from nuclear submarines and autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies and commercial aviation. Latterly editor of a leading engineering magazine, he brings an eye for a great story and lots of experience to the team.

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