Rolls-Royce has run what it calls the world’s most powerful aerospace gearbox for the first time, marking a significant step in the development of its new UltraFan engine design. The UltraFan concept features a power gearbox between the fan and intermediate pressure compressor to ensure the fan runs at its optimum speed.
The first run of the Rolls-Royce Power Gearbox (PGB), at the company’s facility in Dahlewitz, Germany, marks the start of a series of tests which will see the gearbox reach up to 100,000 horsepower.
The test took place on Rolls-Royce’s Attitude Rig, which allows engineers to simulate the effects of the gearbox being on the wing of an aircraft that is climbing after take-off, coming in to land or banking while in flight. The initial run confirmed rig dynamics and oil system functionality at low pressures and speeds.
More advanced testing will take place during the rest of the year to provide additional data on low power high-speed combinations at various pitch and roll angles and at different simulated altitudes. High-power testing will take place next year on the PGB Power Rig where the gearbox will reach full power.
UltraFan, scheduled to be available from 2025, will be designed to offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement over the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engine. It will feature:
- a new engine core architecture – to deliver maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions,
- a CTi Fan System – carbon/titanium fan blades and a composite casing to reduce weight,
- advanced ceramic matrix composites – heat-resistant components that operate more effectively by requiring less cooling air,
- a geared design to deliver efficient power for high-thrust, high-bypass ratio engines of the future.
Rolls-Royce is working in partnership with Liebherr-Aerospace, through their 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 power gearbox, as well as testing activities.