Farnborough Air Show

Rolls-Royce Close To Sealing Trent 1000 Proposal For Boeing 787-10X

 - July 8, 2012, 12:20 AM

Rolls-Royce was close to reaching an agreement with Boeing on the requirements for a Trent 1000-powered 787-10X just ahead of the Farnborough International Airshow. The planned new version of the Dreamliner widebody could become a formal program later this year, possibly linked to the prospective launch of an upgraded 777.

The UK engine manufacturer believes the Trent 1000’s core is large enough to provide the necessary thrust and is keen to establish a formal agreement, said program director Simon Carlisle. He expects the two companies to confirm a deal, perhaps as early as this week’s Farnborough International Airshow, covering service entry in early 2016.

Last month, “quite detailed” discussions about thrust requirements were “in the final throes,” Carlisle said. A study engine being considered for the 787-10X is expected to offer “about 76,000 pounds thrust,” but would be capable of more. It has to meet improved fuel-burn standards and other reliability and maturity requirements, he added.

Stimulated by the launch of the Airbus A320neo narrowbody, the upcoming A350XWB, and muted market response to the 747-8, Boeing faces several considerations as it plans strategy for the mid-years of this decade, including decisions awaited by engine manufacturers. These cover (in likely order) 787-9 completion for service entry before mid-2014, the 787-10X, re-engined 737 Max development, 777 upgrades and a possible further 747 stretch.

Compared with the 787-8 now in service, which has a 502,000-pound takeoff weight and 7,630-nm range, the Rolls-Royce 787-10X study covers a much heavier 553,000-pound aircraft with shorter range, but with 33-percent-higher capacity for 323 passengers.

German carrier Lufthansa and lessor Air Lease Corp. (ALC) are seen as potential launch customers for the 787-10X, which could replace older models such as the Airbus A330-300 twinjet and the four-engine A340-300 and A340-600. ALC has been asking Boeing for a heavier -10X that would offer an additional 400 nm range.

More Than an Upgrade

An engine for the 787-10X will be more than an enhanced-performance upgrade, a significant improvement for the basic Trent 1000, according to Rolls-Royce officials. Technologies employed on the powerplant would “read across” from the Trent XWB and the manufacturer’s environmentally friendly engine demonstrator. Possible architectural changes could involve a modified turbine, perhaps including an extra stage, or an upgraded compressor.

Boeing revealed a possible 787-10 variant at the 2007 Paris Air Show. To obtain the increased cabin capacity, the design is expected to include additional stretches (over the 787-9) in the aft-fuselage Section 47, center-fuselage Sections 46 and 43, as well as the forward Section 42. The latest concept eliminates an earlier extension to Section 41 behind the cockpit.

For the moment, Rolls-Royce’s “most significant” preoccupation is to complete development of the Package C performance improvement for the upgraded 74,000-pound-thrust Trent 1000 that is the launch engine for the 787-9, scheduled to enter service with Air New Zealand in 2014. The upgrade is expected to provide a one-percent performance improvement over powerplants equipped with the current 70,000-pound-thrust Package B standard introduced on All Nippon Airways 787s earlier this year.

The upgrade benefits from Trent XWB development for the Airbus A350 and various R-R demonstrator programs that also contribute technology to the 787-10X-study engine, which is expected to provide a similar improvement over the Pack C.

Initial Certification for 787-8

The Trent 1000C will be certified initially for use on the 787-8, although the first delivered engine will be for the 787-9, said Carlisle. (Pack C can be retrofitted to an engine with the existing Pack B, but the earlier upgrade cannot be fitted to a 787-9.)

By the beginning of last month, Rolls-Royce had completed 76 hours of Pack C running since the initial run in April, covering 70 percent of the test schedule, during which 80,000 pounds of thrust had been demonstrated in a test bed at the manufacturer’s Derby headquarters in England. An eight-week test program was scheduled for completion in June.

Two Trent 1000 Package C engines have been built for initial flight testing on Rolls-Royce’s own Boeing 747-200 flying test bed, with a three-month program scheduled to begin during mid-2012 to optimize “a new advanced turbine-case cooling system” to improve efficiency. Carlisle said the upgrade is on track for the delivery of first engines to Boeing, where they will be test flown on the 787-8 next year.

Rolls-Royce said the Trent 1000’s “sophisticated” health monitoring system has been providing “very valuable” operational service information that sometimes has enabled the manufacturer to anticipate airline questions. Carlisle said operational experience is accruing “very rapidly,” and will have doubled by the end of next month, by which time there will be 14 such aircraft in service.

The Trent 1000 has been chosen by 47 percent of Boeing 787 customers, while engine selection by two major operators–Air France-KLM and Singapore Airlines–was still outstanding last month. Trent-powered 787s have completed more than 3,000 flights.