Causeway Aero Group is a supply chain partner with Rolls-Royce in developing composite components within the LUCIA (Large UltraFan Composites Integrated Aerostructures) project for the UltraFan® advanced engine demonstrator. LUCIA is co-funded by the UK Government through the ATI programme. UltraFan is designed to deliver up to 100,000 lb of thrust, making it a scalable engine technology capable of powering both narrow-body and wide-body aircraft and makes extensive use of advanced materials. It will set new standards in terms of gas turbine efficiency – 25% more fuel efficient than the first generation of Trent engines – and sustainability, with the capability to run on 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).
Pete Hinds, VP Engineering & Business Development at Causeway, explained that as well as the usual accessories mounted externally on the composite fan case, the demonstrator will also be heavily instrumented for ground testing at the new Testbed 80 at Rolls-Royce in Derby, UK, the largest indoor engine test facility. The first run of UltraFan in Derby is scheduled for 2022.
The test sensors and electronic control units will be mounted on platforms around the circumference of the fancase and connected by a complex arrangement of power cables. Conventional metal attachments and cable fasteners could not be used to secure the equipment as they would have a different rate of thermal expansion from the fan case when UltraFan is running, so the engine manufacturer has collaborated with Causeway to find a solution using composites. He said the result is an excellent demonstration of the company’s agility, as a Tier 1 integrator, to rapidly design, develop and manufacture innovative products as well as using its established local Northern Ireland supply chain to reduce costs and turnaround times.