Rolls-Royce Begins Building UltraFan Demonstrator


Rolls-Royce has started manufacturing fan blades for its UltraFan demonstrator engine in Bristol, U.K., the company announced on Tuesday. According to Rolls-Royce, the composite blades are the largest in the world with a diameter of 140 inches. The company says the UltraFan engine will offer a 25 percent reduction in fuel and emissions along with reducing weight by 700 kilograms (about 1543 pounds) compared to first-generation Rolls-Royce Trent engines.

“This is the decade of UltraFan and it’s exciting to enter the 2020s with the start of production of the demonstrator engine,” said Rolls-Royce President of Civil Aerospace Chris Cholerton. “We have got all the building blocks in place, the design, the technologies, a brand-new testbed, and now we are actually seeing the engine come together.”

The UltraFan is scalable form 25,000 pounds up to 100,000 pounds and features a new engine core architecture, advanced ceramic matrix composites and a “geared design to maximize high-thrust, high-bypass ratio engine efficiency.” Rolls-Royce plans to start ground testing the engine in 2021 and is looking to make it commercially available by the end of the decade.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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          • No, it is a high bypass turbofan. A Venn diagram would bring performance parameters together in the middle, but is not a ducted fan and not “a fixed pitch turbopro.”

          • Paul:
            Agreed. My humor was too opaque.
            Now that we have geared engines, the next step may be variable-pitch fans. That will make for an interesting hub…

          • All humor aside, if “it” gets the claimed 25% reduction in fuel consumption then “it” signals that electric airliners just lost any chance to compete.

          • Not so sure about that, Mark.
            My impression is that this Electric Airliner fervor is about Green – not the dollars kind; the “save the planet” kind. It has become its own objective – end and means.
            But I’ve been wrong before, so we’ll see……