Dubai Air Show

Rolls Prepares For Trent XWB Production Run

 - November 17, 2013, 4:45 AM
A350 MSN001 in final assembly.

British engine-maker Rolls-Royce has begun manufacturing parts for the 84,000-pound thrust Trent XWB-84s that will power the first Airbus A350-900 for launch customer Qatar Airways, and is on track for the powerplant’s entry into service (EIS) in the third-quarter of 2014.

Initial components for Qatar’s first engines were expected to arrive in Rolls-Royce’s finished parts store early this month, according to Trent XWB program director Chris Young, and assembly is scheduled to begin around the end of the year. By mid-October, orders had been placed by nearly 40 customers for more than 750 A350s (including more than 175 stretched A350-1000s).

Rolls-Royce (Stand 1854) is already building pre-production Trent XWBs as flight-testing of the new twin-aisle twinjet continues with the first two flying A350s (serial numbers MSN 001 and 003). Production is running at about one a month.

By mid-October, Rolls-Royce had delivered engines for the two flight-test aircraft, one flying-testbed (FTB) unit and a spare. It had also shipped powerplants to the United Technologies Aerospace Services “podding” facility in Toulouse for A350 MSN 004, which (with MSN 002) is scheduled to fly in February. Next scheduled deliveries were the first and second XWB-84s for MSN 002, which last month were in engine test and core assembly, respectively, ahead of MSN 005’s powerplants then in module assembly.

Rolls-Royce Trent XWB testing update

By mid-October, Rolls-Royce had logged more than 5,600 hours of Trent XWB testing for the Airbus A350 program using 12 development engines (including three flying testbed units) during 10,600 cycles, about half of which have been generated during 2013, said program director Chris Young. Since receipt of EASA certification nine months ago, Rolls-Royce has concentrated on accumulating additional engine-running “to prove maturity and robustness.”

Maturity testing on Trent XWB serial number 20001/4 has been completed after close to 860 hours that involved more than 1,500 cycles (including about 1,240 simulated flight cycles. Serial number 20005/3a had run 1,000 simulated flight cycles before a teardown began last month before components that were examined by a large number of airlines, according to Young. Cycles were run in very, very hot conditions at Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial. Rolls-Royce says the testing constituted time at temperature equivalent to one [maintenance] shop visit for harsh operations.

Serial number 20002/4 had completed 1,000 flight cycles on Rolls-Royce’s outdoor jet engine test facility, which was set up six years ago at NASA’s John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi to conduct noise, crosswind, endurance and other tests. The work included 3,000 thrust-reverser deployments that cannot be conducted indoors; tests continue until the engine completes one shop visit equivalency in average conditions.

Last month Rolls-Royce opened a second outdoor engine stand at Stennis. This is part of a general expansion of test capacity required as Trent XWB-84 production increases. A new indoor test facility also became operational at Dahlewitz in Germany in August. The XWB-97 requires a 25-percent increase in production and testing capacity, Young said.

The Trent XWB-84 in Airbus A350-900 flight test

There have been no surprises with the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-84 during Airbus A350-900 flight-testing, said program director Chris Young. “Everyone is delighted; it’s been really successful, with very high utilization. The aircraft has been flying up to twice a day, day after day. We’ve not been slowed up by maintenance or [aircraft] inspections.”

The first Airbus A350’s engines had logged almost 280 flight-hours each in 63 flights by mid-October and those on serial number 003 (the second to fly) about five hours each. About 280 flight-hours also have been accrued in nearly 90 flights with three flying testbed engines. Young said the Trent XWB-84 is behaving “brilliantly,” demonstrating good operability and reliability with “immensely positive feedback. This reflects our aim to ensure as mature an engine as possible, [which is why] we flew it a year ahead of first flight.”