Airborne at last, Rolls-Royce’s Trent XWB engine for the A350 XWB flew for the first time on an Airbus A380 testbed from Toulouse, France on Feb 19. The engine, which replaced one of the A380’s standard Trent 900 in the inboard No.2 position under the left wing, is expected to rack up around 175 flight hours over a roughly seven-month long, 60-sortie flight test program. The Trent XWB, which ran on the ground for the first time in June 2010, has already completed more than 1,500 hours of testing, including endurance running, icing and simulated altitude.
It was during icing trials at the new Manitoba, Canada, facility Rolls shares with Pratt & Whitney, that the need for some design changes was discovered. Tests showed with the anti-icing system inoperative, some compressor blades saw damage that would reduce their service life. A redesign has been developed to strengthen the blades in certain areas and allow airlines to dispatch the aircraft even if the anti-icing system is inoperative without concern about engine durability.
Flight tests were originally due to start late last year on the A380 but were delayed by the results of endurance tests which unearthed the need to fix a seal. Airbus and Rolls decided to implement the change on the engine allocated to the flying testbed, delaying the start of those trials several weeks. For more about the engine testing and XWB program see Aviation Week & Space Technology Feb 10 edition.