Today, at ILA, Rolls-Royce and Airbus announced a collaboration agreement for the integration of Rolls-Royce’s UltraFan demonstrator for flight testing. The integration solutions demonstration will be co-funded by Clean Sky 2, the European Union research programme focused on developing technology to reduce emissions.
The UltraFan is a scalable jet engine design suitable for widebody or narrowbody aircraft and is expected to offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement over the first-generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engine. The announcement did not mention any detail on the thrust class for a test engine.
One element of the UltraFan program is planning for ground and flight tests, and to support this Rolls-Royce signed an agreement with Airbus to provide both nacelle and engine/aircraft integration architecture and technology enablers. Test flights will be carried out on a Rolls-Royce flying testbed.
Airbus integration solutions will play an important part in achieving the overall fuel efficiency improvement of higher bypass ratio engines such as UltraFan, through innovative architecture and associated technologies.
Andy Geer, Rolls-Royce, Chief Engineer and Head of Program – UltraFan, said: “This is another step forward in our UltraFan engine journey and it is great to have Airbus expertise to further strengthen our ability to deliver this important development programme. We remain very grateful to Clean Sky 2 for its continued recognition of the environmental benefits that UltraFan will bring.” Axel Flaig, Airbus Head of Research and Technology Programme, said: “This technology development programme with Rolls-Royce is a key project for Airbus to pave the way towards the next generation integrated propulsion systems that will be needed by airline customers towards the end of the next decade. We thank the Clean Sky 2 European funding programme for its strong support to this project which is a key contributor towards the ACARE environmental targets.”
UltraFan will feature a new engine core architecture and lean-burn combustion system which will contribute to improved fuel burn efficiency and lower emissions, along with a carbon-titanium fan blade system and a composite casing which reduces weight. The engine also introduces a geared design to deliver efficient power at high-bypass ratios. Aspects of the wider UltraFan Demonstrator activities are in receipt of co-funding support from a combination of European CleanSky and UK & German state schemes.
For Airbus, the project will enable it to fully integrate the overall powerplant system – composed of the engine, pylon, and nacelle – onto future long-range aircraft products, as well as facilitating scalability for future short-range aircraft. It will also build on Airbus’ expertise in advanced manufacturing technologies, such as high-deposition-rate additive manufacture, welded assembly, and high production rate thermoplastics.