Rolls-Royce Works on Largest Engine as Airbus A350 Demand Rises

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, the sole engine provider on the Airbus SAS A350 due to fly for the first time in days, will begin testing parts of its most powerful engine yet as demand rebounds for the plane’s stretch version.

The engine for the A350-1000, the largest version, will be an upgrade of the turbine now installed on the test plane Airbus is preparing for first flight, said Chris Young, Rolls’s program director. An engine to show output can grow to 97,000 pounds of thrust from 84,000 pounds will run soon, he said.

Rolls-Royce’s stakes are high on the Airbus long-range plane, where it remains the only engine provider with exclusivity rights on the -1000 type. The large jet, which aims to take on the Boeing Co. 777-300ER powered by General Electric Corp., has booked a series of commitments from Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd and British Airways after previously slower sales.

“The -1000 is really starting to gain market acceptance,” Young said. “It is all about growing the engine now to 97,000 pounds of thrust.”

The TrentXWB-97, as the A350-1000s turbine is called, will introduce a larger engine core, new coatings and a novel adaptive coating system to deliver the enhanced performance, Young said. Many of those technologies will be demonstrated this year using a current-standard engine, before the first proper model enters testing next year, he said.

Wide-Body Reliance

Rolls-Royce has bet heavily on the large airliner market after reducing its role in the single-aisle segment last year with the exit from the International Aero Engines joint venture. The new Airbus long-range jet has been its most successful program, with sales to power more than 600 planes, including 110 A350-1000s.

Like the current A350-900 engine, the larger version will first fly on an Airbus A380 where one of four Trent 900 superjumbo engines will be replaced with a TrentXWB to gather data. The A350-1000’s maiden flight is due 2016, Young said.

Rolls plans to start building engines for the first A350 customer plane to go to Qatar Airways Plc. in the fourth quarter.

Rolls, which lost out to GE to power Boeing’s renewal of the popular 777 long-range plane, expects the Chicago-based planemaker to launch the 787-10X, the largest Dreamliner model, said Pam Robertshaw, program executive for the Trent 1000 that powers the Dreamliner. Singapore Airlines Ltd., which plans to buy 30 787-10s once Boeing formally approves the program, said on June 7 that it picked Rolls engines.

The new engine, called the Trent 1000-TEN, will feature technology pioneered on the A350 powerplant. Rolls-Royce will introduce the first development engine of the -TEN program at the end of this year, Robertshaw said.

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