On the sidelines of Dubai Airshow 2023, Rolls-Royce announced it has achieved a significant milestone by successfully running its UltraFan technology demonstrator to maximum power at its facility in Derby, UK.
The UltraFan demonstrator engine, which has a fan diameter of 140 inches (3.56 meters) making it the world’s largest aero-engine ever built, is being tested in Rolls-Royce’s indoor aerospace testbed, called Testbed 80. The demonstrator performed in line with the company’s expectations.
The UltraFan program, which was first publicly announced in 2014, aims to deliver a 10% improvement in efficiency over the Trent XWB. In total, this represents a remarkable 25% gain in efficiency since the launch of the first Trent engine.
One of the most promising aspects of UltraFan technology is its scalability, with a thrust range of approximately 25,000 to 110,000 pounds, making it suitable for a wide range of aircraft, including the narrowbody and widebody planes expected to emerge in the 2030s.
“We estimate that to reach Net Zero flying by 2050, a combination of highly-efficient, latest-generation gas turbines such as UltraFan operating on 100% SAF are likely to contribute around 80% of the total solution, which is why today’s announcement is such an important milestone for Rolls-Royce and the wider industry,” Simon Burr, Group Director of Engineering, Technology and Safety at Rolls-Royce, commented in a press release.
According to Rolls-Royce, the UltraFan development program has identified several technologies that can be transferred to the company’s current Trent engines.
The engine maker also announced having completed compatibility testing of 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on all its in-production civil aero engine types, while making sure that the Ultrafan demonstrator shared the same capability.