Rolls-Royce has officially started building the world’s largest aero-engine, UltraFan®, which will help redefine sustainable air travel for decades to come.
Work on the first module is underway and the demonstrator engine, which has a fan diameter of 3,5 meters, will be completed by the end of the year. The engine is the basis for a potential new family of UltraFan engines able to power both narrowbody and widebody aircraft and deliver a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of Trent engine.
That performance improvement is crucial to achieving aviation sustainability. Gas turbines will continue to be the bedrock of long-haul aviation for many years, and UltraFan’s efficiency will help improve the economics of an industry transition to more sustainable fuels, which are likely to be more expensive in the short-term than traditional jet fuel. The first test run of the engine will be conducted on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
UltraFan is part of Rolls-Royce’s IntelligentEngine vision – for example each fan blade has a digital twin which stores real-life test data, allowing engineers to predict in-service performance. When on test at Rolls-Royce’s new £90m Testbed 80 facility, data can be taken from more than 10,000 parameters, detecting the tiniest of vibrations at a rate of up to 200,000 samples per second.