Rolls-Royce announced a partnership with Liebherr-Aerospace to build the gearbox for the forthcoming UltraFan engine. The 50-50 joint venture will be located in Friedrichshafen, Bavaria where Liebherr-Aerospace has a major facility.
The UltraFan is a new geared turbofan design from Rolls-Royce, and could be ready for service from 2025. It is expected that the UltraFan will provide at least a 25% fuel burn improvement over the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engines.
Production engineering for the power gear drive train components will be completed through the joint venture. Component manufacturing will initially be performed at existing Liebheer facilities, and as production volume increase, a stand-alone option will be considered. Design of the gearbox, and the UltraFan, will be led by Rolls-Royce, who will also test the gearbox.
Rolls-Royce Germany has begun building a new power gearbox test center at Dalhwitz, just south of Berlin. That €80 million investment will be partially funded by the Brandenburg government. More than 100 engineers are already working on the project, and testing of gears will begin in 2016.