Rolls-Royce and Liebherr-Aerospace have started up their gearbox manufacturing joint-venture – Aerospace Transmission Technologies GmbH — situated at the Liebherr’s operation in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Earlier this year, the two partners formed the new business to engineer and manufacture the power gearbox for Rolls-Royce’s new UltraFan™ engine, one of two new jet engine designs Rolls unveiled in 2014.
The new engine is not slated to come to market until 2025, according to earlier announcements.
The venture is co-owned, 50-50, by the two investing partners, who supplied its staff of 30 employees. Aerospace Transmission Technologies is co-led by two managing directors, Heike Liebe from Liebherr-Aerospace and Dr. Rob Harvey from Rolls-Royce.
Rolls-Royce will lead the design definition and design integration of the power gearbox, as well as the testing activities. Liebherr-Aerospace will manufacture the components of the power gear drivetrain in its existing Liebherr operations during the development phase of the power gearbox.
Like the Advance turbofan engine announced at the same time the UltraFan will incorporate designs and technology developed by Rolls, including a new engine core architecture; carbon/titanium (CTi) fan blades and a composite casing that reduce weight by up to 1,500 lb./aircraft; and advanced ceramic matrix composites that deliver heat resistance for effectiveness at higher operating temperatures.
According to earlier announcements, manufacturing of the UltraFan power gear drivetrain components will be done in established Liebherr-Aerospace workshops, initially, though the partners stated they would consider stand-alone manufacturing as production volumes increase.
The new UltraFan™ engine will be Rolls-Royce’s first geared-turbofan engine, a design wherein the gearbox between the fan and the low-pressure shaft allows the shaft to run at a higher rotational speed, thereby reducing the number of stages needed for the turbine and the compressor. The effect is to increase efficiency and reduces overall weight.
Rolls stated the UltraFan engine would improve fuel burn by at least 25% compared with the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engines.
The gearboxes that Aerospace Transmission Technologies builds will allow the UltraFan to deliver efficient power over a range of take-off thrusts for high-bypass ratio engines of the future.
“The new power gearbox test center we’re building at our Dahlewitz site south of Berlin is progressing well and celebrating its roof-topping today. I’m pleased to see our joint venture moving at the same pace,” according to Dr. Rainer Hönig, managing director, Rolls-Royce Deutschland,