Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the first Trent XWB engine run on its state-of-the-art Testbed 80, which will be the world’s largest and smartest indoor aerospace testbed.
Housed in an internal area of 7,500m2, the Testbed 80 required three years of construction and £90m of investment. It is intended to test not only the entire range of current Rolls-Royce engines, including the Trent XWB and the Trent 1000 but above all; it will have the capability to test the UltraFan demonstrator as well as the hybrid or all-electric flight systems of the future.
The testbed will be able to accommodate engines of all sizes up to 155,000 lbf thrust – that’s enough power to launch a Boeing 747 with one (huge) engine.
The Testbed 80 will also be able to partially supply the tested engines with Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), which can already be used as a “drop-in” fuel in our existing engines. It is equipped with a 140,000-liter fuel tank, suitable for storing different types of fuel. Rolls-Royce considers that this is part of the initiatives to be implemented with a view to the decarbonization of aviation.
Another key feature is that it is equipped with a very complex and powerful data collection system that Rolls-Royce has ever used. Linked to an intricate web of sensors that detect even the tiniest vibrations at a rate of up to 200,000 samples per second, the Testbed 80 is capable of collecting data on more than 10,000 different engine parameters and facilities the analysis of the behavior of each component according to the simulated situations. The data is recorded in secure storage, directly linked to the engine manufacturer’s analytical models.
Finally, Rolls-Royce points out that the testbed is also home to a powerful X-ray machine that is able to capture 30 images per second and beam them directly to a secure cloud, where engineers around the world can analyze them along with the 10,000 other data parameters we can measure.
“This s an important landmark in our journey towards a more sustainable future for aerospace and aviation,” said Chris Cholerton, President Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace. “Testbed 80 will not only test engines such as the Trent XWB – the world’s most efficient aero-engine in service – but also the engines and propulsion systems of the future, which will see us take another step towards decarbonization. It’s great that the first engine test has been a success, and we are looking forward to the official opening of the facility in the coming months.“