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June 16, 2024
Rolls-Royce UltraFan technology demonstrator build complete; ready for test
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This morning Rolls-Royce announced it has completed building and is preparing to test its UltraFan® technology demonstrator. The demonstrator engine was transported from the build workshop and into Testbed 80 in Derby, UK, where it was mounted in preparation for testing.

The first demonstrator test is expected to take place early next year and will be operated using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Chris Cholerton, President of Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace, said: “Seeing the UltraFan demonstrator come together and getting ready for test in Testbed 80 is a great way to end the year. We have all been waiting for this moment, which is such an important milestone for the programme and for the team who have worked on it. The next stage will be to see UltraFan run for the first time on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel in 2023, proving the technology is ready to support more sustainable flight in the future.”

Rolls-Royce is combining a new engine design with a suite of technologies to support sustainable air travel for decades. The UltraFan demonstrator has a fan diameter of 140 inches and should offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first-generation Trent engines.  UltraFan, Rolls-Royce claims, offers a variety of sustainability solutions that support the journey to net zero aviation.

In the nearer term, there are options to transfer technologies from the UltraFan development program to current Trent engines to deliver enhanced fuel efficiency and reductions in emissions. In the longer term, UltraFan’s scalable technology from ~25,000-110,000lb thrust can improve the fuel efficiency of both narrowbody and widebody aircraft by up to 10 percent.

Testbed 80, Rolls-Roce’s largest and smartest testbed, was designed and built especially to accommodate the size and technical complexity of the UltraFan demonstrator. It was opened in 2020 and has completed many hours of experimental engine testing. The UltraFan technology demonstrator program has been supported by the UK’s Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK, the EU’s Clean Sky programs, plus LuFo and the State of Brandenburg in Germany.

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Addison Schonland
Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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