Now that Airbus is talking openly about the revised A350-1000, Rolls-Royce has finally broken cover on more details of its higher thrust version of the Trent XWB. The announcement is being billed as an exclusive deal with Airbus to provide “the most advanced civil aircraft engine on offer in the world,” and paints a nice gloss over what is actually a major redesign that contributes to an 18-month program delay.
Yet, if it works out, the painful corrective surgery being taken now may indeed produce a top-class engine in a thrust category (97,000 lbs) potentially well suited to match Boeing’s future needs as it looks for a successor to the 777. Remember that, even though absolute thrust has increased over time, each generation of aircraft achieves more range and capability with proportionately less structural weight and thrust. In other words, a new airframe optimized for the 777 replacement role – be it the 777-200ER or 300ER, should need slightly less thrust than today.
Rolls confirms earlier reports that the additional thrust will be achieved by the inclusion of new high temperature turbine technology, increasing the size of the engine core and advanced fan aerodynamics – incorporating innovations from the company’s Advance 3 technology demonstrator programs.
Interestingly, Rolls-Royce’s president Mark King adds that “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.”
An unusual image of EFE showing the glow of burning gas at the exposed turbine nozzle exit on test. (Rolls-Royce)
Technology is for the XWB is therefore likely to emerge from the on-going Trent 1000 environmentally friendly engine (EFE) and two-shaft E3E (efficiency, environment, economy) technology demonstrator cores. Build 1A of EFE completed a functional test phase in April and will go back to test in the third quarter with Build 2 which will focus on a high pressure turbine thermal paint test and an advanced active clearance control system. Combining a manifold air system and mechanically actuated elements, the control device incorporates probes to measure the tip clearance and provides instant feedback to the actuators.