Rolls-Royce claims new record for UltraFan power gearbox
The aerospace gearbox, destined to play a key role in the company’s future UltraFan engine, reached 70,000 horsepower during testing in Dahlewitz, Germany
Rolls-Royce has set a new record for the world’s most powerful aerospace gearbox, destined to play a key role in the company’s next-generation UltraFan engine, which is due to become available in the middle of the next decade.
Speaking at the International Society for Air Breathing Engines (ISABE) conference in Manchester, UK, Paul Stein, Chief Technology Officer at Rolls-Royce, confirmed that the power gearbox had successfully reached 70,000 horsepower while on test at Rolls-Royce’s dedicated facility in Dahlewitz, Germany.
Testing of the first demonstrator gearbox, which began in May, will now focus on lower power functions such as endurance and reliability. The power gearbox is designed to run all the way up to 100,000 horsepower, and future demonstrators are expected to achieve these levels.
The power gearbox has a planetary design, with each ‘planet’ capable of holding the force of a Trent XWB engine at full throttle. It is designed to allow the shafts at the core of the engine to run at very high speeds while allowing the fan at the front of the engine to run at a slower speed. The associated improvement in efficiency and reduction in weight will allow the UltraFan engine to offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement over the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engines.
As well as high power testing, the power gearbox is also undergoing attitude rig testing, which simulates the effect of the gearbox being on the wing of an aircraft in flight, through phases such as take-off, climb, banking and descent.
Rolls-Royce is working in partnership with Liebherr-Aerospace, through the Aerospace Transmission Technologies joint venture, to develop manufacturing capability and capacity for the new power gearbox. Rolls-Royce leads the design definition and design integration of the project, as well as testing activities.