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Lack of potential demand sees Rolls-Royce put new UltraFan engine on hold

©Rolls-Royce

has announced that it will suspend its geared-turbofan jet engine once the current testing phase is completed, which will be in 2022.

Over US$800 million has been invested in the program which began approaching seven years ago. The British engine maker has indicated that it is not scrapping the engine but will instead fire up the engine's development once there is clear evidence that a new series of narrow-body commercial jets will be introduced. “We absolutely intend to . . . complete the phase we are in at the moment, which is to create and fully test our demonstrator,” Warren East explained to the Financial Times. “But at that point, we will put the thing on ice. I can't force airframe manufacturers to invent new airplanes and if there is no demand for them then there is no demand for the engines.”

The UltraFan and Advance engines were announced in 2014 as the successors to the Trent series of engines. The UltraFan was penciled in to be available from 2025, offering 25% greater fuel efficiency and approximately 25% lower fuel emissions than the Trent. Both Airbus and are Rolls-Royce's most important customers, and both are suffering from the knock-on effects the COVID-19 pandemic has had on air travel that has seen the cancelation of orders for hundreds of aircraft and a massive reduction in the volume of aircraft and engine for existing jets.

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