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April 12, 2024
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Reuters reported today that Rolls-Royce announced two new engines; the “Advance” which is expected to be 6% more fuel efficient than the Trent XWB (Rolls’ latest engine) and the “UltaFan” which is expected to be 10% more fuel efficient than the Trent XWB.

Given the disruption of spiking fuel costs, the airlines have shown their interest in re-engined aircraft. The MAX and neo speak for themselves.  The ongoing rumble of news around an A380neo and A330neo are not based on whimsy – better fuel burn is a real goal.  The 787’s engines are also getting tweaked with PIPs.

Rolls-Royce’s decision to talk about its new engines is well timed.  The A380 is clearly a target for an exclusive for the neo version – Emirates’ Tim Clark is riding herd on this.  We understand the pressure on EA and Rolls-Royce for the next batch of A380s for Emirates is the toughest competition  the two engine makers have had to date.

The risks are huge: if EA loses, it has (potentially) no future as there is no other program that uses the GP7200.  The EA partnership between GE and Pratt is not really even. If EA loses, GE has a very big business in large fans already and is exclusive on the 777, plus has a great business with 787.   Its GEnx is also in the running for an A330neo.  Pratt on the other hand is not a big player on the big fans; its only significant program is on the USAF tanker.  So, while GE is likely to be more sanguine about losing Emirates than Pratt, we think the EA partnership will nonetheless go full throttle on Emirates.  Denying Rolls-Royce a win helps GE more than it does Pratt.

However we suspect that the Pratt team today is all smiles – Rolls’ UltraFan comes with a gear.  ‘Imitation is the highest form of flattery’  are words from 19th century cleric Charles Colton.  The folks in Hartford are no doubt nodding heads in agreement.

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5 thoughts on “Rolls-Royce gets its gear

  1. It will be interesting to see how RR will adapt this new gear system to its existing three-spool technology.

  2. If I get this right, there will be no gear for a the normal engine, only for the open rotor model. An open rotor would turn way too fast without a gear. This article explains the Rolls product plans more clearly:


    To me it looks like Rolls imitates GE’s specialties, i.e. carbon fan and casing and an ultra high pressure core, not Pratt’s. And it is really a smart move, as it should really be not too difficult to make those carbon parts. I expect that sooner or later Pratt will do a similar move with the GTFs. In the end both Pratt and Rolls will have a significant advantage over GE.
    So how will GE catch up, 3-spool or gears? Open rotor anybody? Are there other options?

  3. Normand, it may look as if the “Ultrafan” has a 2 spool architecture


    Compressor: 1-stage geared fan, 3 stage LP, 9 stage HP
    Turbine: 2-stage HP, 4-stage LP


    Compressor: 1-stage fan LP, 4 stage IP, 8 stage HP.
    Turbine: 2-stage LP, 1-stage IP (/2-stage)* IP, 6-stage (/7-stage) LP.

    *It’s not clear from the figure if the last stage visible is actually a moving LP turbine.

    Of course, the UltraFan should be scalable as well. From single aisle applications to very large aircraft.


    Click on the image to see a larger version. 🙂


  4. Addendum: I wrote LP instead of HP for the turbine.

    Compressor: 1-stage fan LP, 4 stage IP, 8 stage HP.
    Turbine: 2-stageHP, 1-stage IP ( or 2-stage)* IP, 6-stage (/7-stage) LP.

    *It’s not clear from the figure if the last stage visible is actually a moving LP turbine.

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