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5/5/2015 | 2 MINUTE READ

Trent jet engines: Rolls-Royce increases blade R&D, begins work with FACC

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Rolls-Royce (London, UK) showed signs that it’s serious about composites development in a recent report that Bristol, UK, will be the location of a composite technology center for advanced commercial jet-engine fan systems.

Rolls-Royce (London, UK) showed signs that it’s serious about composites development in a recent report that Bristol, UK, will be the location of a composite technology center for advanced commercial jet-engine fan systems. The company says the facility will be at the forefront as Rolls- Royce develops next-generation fan blades and fan cases made with carbon fiber composites for future aeroengines.

Rolls-Royce’s CTi (carbon/titanium) blades are a key feature of the new Advance engine design, unveiled last year, which will reportedly burn at least 20% less fuel and emit an equally smaller quantity of CO2 emissions than its first-generation Trent aeroengine. The blades and associated composite casings will form part of the new CTi fan system that could reduce engine weight by as much as 680 kg per aircraft — the equivalent of carrying seven more passengers and their luggage.

The pre-production facility will be housed within an existing building alongside Rolls-Royce’s new facility for carbon fiber electrical harness rafts, currently under construction on the Bristol site by Rolls-Royce in partnership with the National Composites Centre (NCC), backed by research conducted at the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre at the University of Bristol. Existing CTi manufacturing operations will be transferred from the Isle of Wight, UK, to Bristol, during 2017.

The CTi blade is layed up with carbon fiber/ epoxy prepreg, using automated fiber place- ment technology. Cured blades are machined and coated before titanium sheathes are bonded to the leading edges. Finished components are inspected and measured via ultrasound and subjected to mechanical testing.

A set of the CTi fan blades, incorporated into a Trent 1000 donor engine, successfully completed a full flight- test program on a Rolls-Royce 747 flying testbed at Tucson, AZ, US, in December 2014. A testing program for the complete fan set will continue throughout 2015.

Meanwhile, aerocomposites manufacturer FACC (Ried im Innkreis, Austria) has begun series production of composite parts for the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine. At rate production in 2017, FACC will deliver four ship- sets per week of composite fan track liners, rear case liners, bifurcation linings and anti-fluid panels used on the Airbus (Toulouse, France) A350 XWB powerplants.

FACC is responsible for development and production of the engine composites as part of a life-of-program contract for the Trent XWB engine, a fuel-efficient power system that entered service at the end of 2014, following delivery of the first A350 XWB to launch customer Qatar Airways.

Rolls-Royce awarded the contract to FACC in 2012. Currently, the engine maker envisages a total order volume of approximately US$300 million and foresees deliveries through 2028. 

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