Rolls-Royce to develop higher-thrust Trent XWB engine

Rolls-Royce is to redevelop the engines for the largest of Airbus’s new composite-based airliners, which aim to slash fuel use and CO2 emissions.

The UK-based aerospace firm announced the deal last night at the Paris Air Show, confirming speculation that Airbus would need a more powerful engine for the biggest version of its new, lightweight composite-based aircraft family, the A350 XWB.

The higher-thrust version of the Trent XWB engine will deliver 97,000lb maximum thrust for the A350-1000 model, using new high-temperature turbine technology, increased engine core size and advanced fan aerodynamics.

Six Trent XWB engines are being tested and are delivering better than targeted results, Rolls-Royce said in a statement. Flight testing of Trent XWB engines is scheduled to begin later this year.

‘Trent XWB engines currently on test are proving to be the most advanced civil aero engines in the world today,’ said Rolls-Royce’s president of civil aerospace, Mark King.

‘The higher-thrust variant of the Trent XWB incorporates further innovations from our Advance 3 technology demonstrator programmes.

‘Many of the technological and performance improvements of the higher-thrust Trent XWB will also be used to enhance performance of other members of the Trent engine family.’

The A350 XWB (which stands for extra-wide body) will feature Airbus’s first composite-based fuselage and wings, made from carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) to help reduce fuel consumption and make maintenance easier.

More than 70 per cent of the craft’s airframe will be made from so-called advanced materials, combining 53 per cent composite structures with titanium and advanced aluminium alloys.

Airbus chief operating officer Fabrice Brégier said: ‘Together with our partner Rolls-Royce, we will develop and produce an enhanced A350-1000 aircraft with outstanding payload and long range, the best economics and 25 per cent lower fuel burn and CO2 emissions than its nearest competitor.

‘This will unequivocally assure the A350-1000’s position as the most efficient aircraft in its category.’

As with the Trent XWB engines for the other models in the family, the Airbus A350-800 and -900, the higher-thrust variant is specifically tailored for the aircraft it will power, the A350-1000.

More than 1,100 Trent XWB engines have been ordered by 36 customers, making it the fastest-selling member of the Rolls-Royce Trent engine family.

The higher-thrust variant of the Trent XW is scheduled to run for the first time in mid-2014 and enter service in mid-2017.

For an in-depth look at the A350 XWB, see The Engineer’s latest cover feature.