Rolls-Royce in final build phase for world’s largest aero engine

Rolls-Royce has announced it has entered the final build phase for the world’s largest aero-engine technology demonstrator.

The UltraFan, which has a fan diameter of 140 inches, is being completed at the engineering giant’s civil aerospace site in Derby, prior to its first run on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) later this year.

According to Rolls-Royce, the new engine provides a suite of technologies to support sustainable air travel for decades to come.

It offers a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of Trent engine.

Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce’s president of civil aerospace, said: “Our UltraFan engine technology demonstrator is arriving just as the world is seeking transformative technology to deliver sustainability.

“The suite of technologies we are testing on the demonstrator will create opportunities to make improvements to our current fleet and provide new capability for future propulsion systems.”

Rolls-Royce said that in the nearer term, there are options to transfer technologies from the UltraFan development programme to current Trent engines to deliver even greater fuel efficiency and reductions in emissions.

In the longer term, it said that UltraFan’s scalable technology offers the potential to power new narrowbody and widebody aircraft anticipated in the 2030s.

The new engine also provides a platform for the use of a diverse range of energy options and power systems – including current jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuels as well as future potential for hybrid-electric and hydrogen.

The engine will be tested on Rolls-Royce’s new £90 million test bed facility at Derby, called Testbed 80.

The UltraFan programme is being backed by the UK Government through the Aerospace Technology Institute Programme.

Mr Cholerton said: “This programme is a significant investment in the future, and I am delighted that the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, Germany’s LuFo and the EU’s Clean Sky programmes have all recognised the benefits of UltraFan and provided their support.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “UltraFan is a major opportunity for growth and jobs for the UK.

“I look forward to seeing planes across the world powered by technologies developed in this ultra-efficient engine demonstrator for years to come.”