Rolls-Royce has officially started building the world’s largest aero-engine, UltraFan®, which will help redefine sustainable air travel for decades to come.
Work on the first module is underway at Rolls-Royce’s dedicated DemoWorks facility in Derby, U.K., and the demonstrator engine, which has a fan diameter of 140 inches, will be completed by the end of the year. The engine is the basis for a potential new family of UltraFan engines able to power both narrow-body and wide-body aircraft and deliver a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of Trent engine.
That performance improvement is crucial to achieving aviation sustainability. Gas turbines will continue to be the bedrock of long-haul aviation for many years, and UltraFan’s efficiency will help improve the economics of an industry transition to more sustainable fuels, which are likely to be more expensive in the short-term than traditional jet fuel. The first test run of the engine will be conducted on 100% sustainable aviation fuel.
Significant investment has been made to develop the UltraFan demonstrator and associated technologies by Rolls-Royce and a variety of funding agencies, including the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate U.K. (United Kingdom), LuFo (Germany), and Clean Sky Joint Undertaking (European Union).