Rolls-Royce Teams Up With Liebherr for Next-Generation Engines

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc said it will team up with Germany’s Liebherr Aerospace to develop a generation of more efficient aircraft engines called the ultrafan that will be available after 2025.

Liebherr, whose products span aerospace components to heavy mining equipment and household fridges, will provide the gearbox, the companies said Wednesday at a presentation in Berlin. The ultrafan will be 25 percent more fuel efficient than the first generation of Rolls-Royce’s Trent engine, they said.

Rolls said it picked Liebherr in part because the company has a track record making gears for helicopters and understands the production requirements. The U.K. manufacturer is mapping out its next decade of engine design, with a so-called Advanced powerplant with titanium-composite blades to be an intermediate step between the XWB model on the Airbus A350 and the ultrafan.

The A350 and XWB entered service this year with Qatar Airways Ltd. Rolls-Royce’s Trent engines also power Airbus’s A380 superjumbo and A330 wide-body, as well as the Boeing Co. 777 and 787, though the company is absent from next-generation single-aisle aircraft, the A320neo and Boeing’s 737MAX.

London-based Rolls declined to specify which part of the aircraft market it’s targeting with the ultrafan, though it will be able to bridge a wide thrust range to be applicable both to smaller and wide-body airliners.