Rolls Ultrafan Illus 1540

Rolls-Royce Open to Boeing's New Jet Project

Feb. 19, 2020
Though it left the 'New Midsize Airplane' project last year, Rolls could propose its Ultrafan engine now that Boeing is planning a clean-sheet approach.

Rolls-Royce Plc may consider rejoining the Boeing Co. effort to develop a new mid-sized commercial jet, now that Boeing is taking a fresh approach to designing such an aircraft. Rolls exited the Boeing project last year, apparently because it could not coordinate its new geared-turbofan engine development with Boeing's schedule.

However, Boeing's new CEO David Calhoun recently set aside the midsized jet project so that the organization can focus on returning the 737 MAX series to commercial service. He said the new jet project would start again "with a clean sheet of paper".

With that new understanding, Rolls-Royce president of civil aerospace Chris Cholerton said the engine builder would consider proposing its new Ultrafan engine as a power source option for the future aircraft. “We are open-minded ... and will stay open-minded when we know what Boeing plans to do,” according to Cholerton, speaking at the recent Singapore Airshow.

UltraFan is Rolls’ first aircraft engine to adopt geared turbofan technology, in contrast to high-bypass turbofan technology, a power system it says will provide at least 25% more fuel-efficiency and similarly reduced emissions levels compared to current standards.  The engine will begin ground testing in 2021, and it will be available for commercial aircraft service later in this decade.

The Boeing "New Midsize Airplane," sometimes referred to as the Boeing 797, would be a twin-engine, single-aisle aircraft offered in two variants: one seating up to 225 passengers with a range of 5,000 nautical miles (9,399 km / 5,840 miles); and one seating up to 275 with a range of 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km / 5,157 miles.)

The Boeing NMA would compete for orders with the Airbus A321XLR, introduced in 2019.

When Rolls withdrew from the development last year, Boeing had been planning to introduce the new aircraft in 2025. Now, it's said to be planning a market entry no sooner than 2028.

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