Tuesday, May 20, 2014

News: Rolls-Royce dispatches first Trent XWB for entry into service

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Rolls-Royce, one of the most famous names in engineering throughout the world, has dispatched the first production Trent XWB that will power the Airbus A350 XWB's entry into commercial service with Qatar Airways later this year.

The Trent XWB, the world's most efficient aero engine and specifically designed for the A350 XWB, is the fastest-selling civil large engine ever, with more than 1,600 already sold to 40 customers.

Employees and guests gathered at Rolls-Royce in Derby to wave the engine off on its journey to Toulouse, where it will later be fitted to the first A350 XWB aircraft to enter service.

Chris Young, Trent XWB programme director at Rolls-Royce, said: "This is an exciting moment for all of us, and marks the first of many Trent XWB deliveries for service. When we reach peak production in 2017 we will be delivering a Trent XWB every working day."

Work on the engine started in 2005 when Rolls-Royce sat down with Airbus to look at how they could improve the performance of the new A350. Today the programme involves 16 manufacturing plants, eleven engineering and testing facilities, 12 engineering partners as well as 75 suppliers worldwide.

One of the manufacturing plants is on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, where single crystal (SX) turbine blades are being produced using the very latest manufacturing techniques.

The turbine extracts energy from the hot gas stream received from the combustor in high-thrust aero engines. Turbine blades convert the energy stored within the gas into kinetic energy.

The advanced turbine blade castings operate in the hottest part of the engine, at 200 degrees centigrade above the melting point of the material from which it's made. Temperatures are approaching half the surface of the sun and even the "cooling air" forced through the holes in the blade is 800C.

The turbine also operates in pressures that are equivalent to half a kilometre down in the ocean. With 68 blades on a rotor spinning at 12,000rpm, centrifugal loads of up to 10 tons are generated on each blade, equivalent to a London bus hanging from it. The high pressure blade tips reach 1,200mph, and at take off one blade creates the same horsepower as a Formula 1 racing engine.

When put together with other ground breaking aspects of the engine it makes the Trent XWB some 20% more fuel efficient than the engines powering the airliners it will replace, saving airlines operating the A350 around £2m per aircraft, per year.

Both Rolls-Royce and Airbus are Tier One members of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, also based on the AMP in Rotherham, as they continue to develop new ways of making aircraft lighter and more fuel efficient.

Rolls-Royce website
Airbus website

Images: Rolls-Royce

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