DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 DBEA55AED16C0C92252A6554BC1553B2 Clicky

We first met this airplane on March 19 2007 when it flew into LAX on a test flight to see how an A380 could handle LAX – and vice versa.  Seeing an A380 at LAX is old hat now.

Meanwhile F-WWOW has been very busy as Airbus’ A380 test bed.  Because its so big you can test almost anything on it. Which applies in particular to the new Rolls-Royce Trent XWB.  Since its “only” two inches wider than the Trent 900 currently on F-WWOW, its hard to tell that this is something different.

Rolls-Royce briefed us today saying the Trent XWB engine is now the the “most efficient” commercial aerospace engine. Strong words. Take a look at their chart below.

According to Rolls-Royce the engine is doing good things during the tests. Tests have confirmed engine function,SFC and capabilities have been met. Indeed during tests they abused the engine by running it at over 92K thrust for over 40 hours – and its supposed to deliver 87K thrust. The computer power available to Rolls-Royce for this project is seven times greater than what they had developing the Trent 900. In the presentation (RR Final) provided by Rolls-Royce you can detect a sense of confidence. The Trent XWB is coming off lessons learned on the Trent 900 and Trent 1000.  They have tested this engine more than previous versions and are well aware of the issues – customers have asked the same question you’re thinking of right now.

But back to F-WWOW. The aircraft only flies in dry weather and is always under cover when its at TLS.  The reason? Instrumentation on the outside. Take a look at how the airplane is instrumented.Just to prove this airframe is used for testing – take a look at all the cameras it has for monitoring. They can watch just about anything in-flight.

The new engine being tested could in all likelihood not have been tested on anything else. The engine itself is highly instrumented – it is carrying 600Kg of extra weight in instrumentation for flight tests. Airbus is pleased with the engine and the results from Rolls-Royce’s tests.

There was not a word about Airbus’ desire for an engine option on the A350 – and none of the trade press at the briefing asked about this. Part of the reason is probably the great news Rolls-Royce shared today – their even more powerful version of this engine can generate 97K thrust for the A350-1000.  By doing clever modifications inside the engine like increasing rotation speed by 6% and growing the core a bit they achieved this thrust at no increase in SFC.  The more powerful engine will also retain the same low noise footprint of the smaller version.

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