The aerospace giant Rolls-Royce announced it completed the building and is preparing to test its UltraFan technology demonstrator. The demonstrator engine was transported from the build workshop and into Testbed 80 in Derby, UK, where it was mounted in preparation for testing.
The first test of the demonstrator is expected to take place early next year and will be operated using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
The UltraFan demonstrator combines a brand-new engine design with a suite of technologies to support sustainable air travel for decades to come. The UltraFan is the largest aero-engine technology demonstrator in the world. Its fan – made of carbon titanium blades – measures 140 inches in diameter. The engine offers a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of the Trent engine.
UltraFan offers a variety of sustainability solutions that will support the journey to net zero aviation. In the near term, Rolls-Royce will transfer technologies and know-how from the UltraFan development program to current Trent engines to deliver enhanced fuel efficiency and reductions in emissions. In the longer term, UltraFan’s scalable technology from ~25,000-110,000lb thrust delivers the potential to further improve the fuel efficiency of both narrowbody and widebody aircraft by up to 10%. Looking at both fuel prices and emissions, 10% would be a substantial gain indeed for both operators and the planet.
“Seeing the UltraFan demonstrator come together and getting ready for test in Testbed 80 is a great way to end the year,” said Chris Cholerton, President of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace. “We have all been waiting for this moment, which is such an important milestone for the program and for the team who have worked on it. The next stage will be to see UltraFan run for the first time on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel in 2023, proving the technology is ready to support more sustainable flight in the future.”
Testbed 80 is the world’s smartest and largest testbed and cost the manufacturer £90 million ($109.5 million) to build. It was designed and built especially to accommodate the size and technical complexity of the UltraFan demonstrator. It was opened in 2020 and has already completed many hours of experimental engine testing.