Rolls-Royce
The UltraFan demonstrator engine at Rolls-Royce’s Testbed 80 in Derby, England.

Rolls Completes First Tests for UltraFan Demo

May 18, 2023
The new geared turbofan technology demonstrator passed the initial tests using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel, proving the viability of new engine technologies, according to the developer.

Rolls-Royce reported it completed initial tests of its UltraFan technology demonstrator at its testbed in Derby, England, the world’s largest indoor aero-engine testing facility. It’s the first test of a new aerospace engine architecture completed by Rolls-Royce in more than half a century, and the tests were conducted using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), it emphasized.

Rolls added the successful test confirms the ability of its suite of new engine technologies to improve the efficiency of current and future aircraft engines.

The UltraFan is a large-dimension demonstrator engine that Rolls has been developing for nearly a decade, incorporating geared turbofan technology with a 140-inch fan diameter and comparatively small core to achieve fuel efficiency while delivering exceptionally high propulsion power for wide- or narrow-body aircraft.

The demonstrator engine incorporates a new engine-core architecture (Advance3) in combination with a “lean burn” combustion system, to maximize fuel-burn efficiency and low emissions. The carbon-titanium fan blades and a composite material engine casing reduce the overall weight of the engine significantly over current designs, and the geared design delivers efficient power for the high-thrust, high-bypass ratio engines envisioned for future aircraft design

On the original development schedule the UltraFan was meant to be available by 2025, but Rolls has not indicated any plans to launch production of the engine. Rather, the design and technologies being demonstrated with the UltraFan program could be transferred to the current Trent engine to improve reliability and efficiency for existing units.

“The UltraFan demonstrator is a game changer,” according to Tufan Erginbilgic, the recently installed CEO of Rolls-Royce plc. “The technologies we are testing as part of this program have the capability to improve the engines of today as well as the engines of tomorrow. ... When combined with Sustainable Aviation Fuels, more efficient gas turbine engines will be key to hitting the industry’s target of Net Zero flight by 2050.”

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