Aviadev Media


Rolls-Royce outline their vision for the African continent

Rolls-Royce has a rich history in African aviation and will be attending AviaDev to further develop their relationships with airlines of all sizes. Ahead of the conference, I caught up with Jason Sutcliffe, Marketing Executive for Middle East and Africa to find out more about their plans for development.

JH: Rolls-Royce has been actively working with Embraer to redeploy ERJs into the African market. Can you provide some more information on the project and why it has been so successful?

JS: Over 12 months ago, Rolls-Royce created an aircraft transition team with an ambition to dramatically improve and simplify the transition of Rolls-Royce assets. The three areas of improvements were:

People: having a group of dedicated experts to facilitate transitions with aircraft owners;
Processes: ensure that various necessary actions are completed in a timescale suitable for the transitions;
Services: to provide assistance in areas where we can add value.

In addition, Rolls-Royce has also unveiled the CareStore – a gateway to access innovative services, providing choice and flexibility across all stages of the engine lifecycle. SelectCare and Foundation Services are examples of CareServices specifically designed for a mature product and to facilitate transitions. Rolls-Royce is actively engaged with second tier customers to deploy these service offerings on the AE 3007 and to support their operation. In Africa, Rolls-Royce is looking at ways to develop our service offering further to support the growing demand from African airlines and to build on the strong relationships already established, as demonstrated by South Africa Airlink recently signing five year TotalCare Agreement extension.

Indeed, Rolls-Royce and Embraer have been working closely together in the African region to promote both the ERJs / AE 3007 platform as well as to support customer entry into service. Both companies are pleased to offer their technical and service expertise locally.

JH: How do you see the market for your engines in the African region over the next 10-15 years? Will there continue to be a reliance on regional aircraft or do you predict a shift towards wide-bodied aircraft?

JS: We are immensely pleased with the position that we find ourselves in Africa. We have a very healthy order book and aside from the clear appetite that operators have for the ERJs, we have seen many orders for the latest twin-aisle aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 and the A350-900, powered by our Trent family of engines. We are closer to our customers than ever before, delivering excellent products and supporting smooth operations. These relationships will continue to flourish as more and more operators expand their networks and fleets. We forecast that airlines in Africa will require over 1,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years. Approximately a quarter of these will be widebodies, and 5%-10% will be regional jets.

There is a clear need for new aircraft in Africa, as both intra-African and intercontinental routes to and from Africa are still underserved in many areas. Regional aircraft are bringing African countries closer together, enabling closer collaboration and cooperation. Equally, new fuel efficient widebody aircraft are increasing capacity to the traditional markets in Europe and the Middle East, as well as creating connections to new and exciting markets such as China, who are major investors in Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and North America. IATA has stated that Africa will grow by 5.1% a year over the next 20 years, reaching a total market size of over 300 million passengers. Clearly, Africa is an important market and we have the right products and services to cater for the demand.

JH: Efficiency, reliability and range are now everything when it comes to air travel. What will be rolling off the Rolls-Royce production line in the coming years?

JS: Rolls-Royce is continuing to develop technology for the future, with its UltraFan® engine design making further progress and continuing to pass new milestones.

The UltraFan engine, available from 2025, will deliver a 25 per cent fuel efficiency improvement over first generation Trent engines. It features:

·       Maximum fuel burn efficiency and low emissions through a new engine core architecture

·       Reduced weight through the use of Carbon Titanium (CTi) in fan blades and a composite casing

·       Increased efficiency through the use of ceramic matric composites (CMCs) which are heat resistant and require less cooling air

·       Efficient power for high by-pass ratio engines of the future through a geared design

The new core architecture is about to be tested at Derby, UK, within an engine demonstrator, known as Advance3. To complete the demonstrator engine, the core is attached to a Trent XWB fan system and a Trent 1000 low pressure turbine.

Rolls-Royce has also made significant progress with the gearbox design. In September the company announced that it has set a new record for the world’s most powerful aerospace gearbox, just months after testing began. Speaking at the International Society for Air Breathing Engines (ISABE) conference in Manchester, UK, Paul Stein, Chief Technology Officer at Rolls-Royce, confirmed that the Power Gearbox had successfully reached 70,000 horsepower while on test at Rolls-Royce’s dedicated facility in Dahlewitz, Germany. The Power Gearbox will play a central role in the company’s next-generation UltraFan® engine, helping to deliver improved efficiency over a wide range of thrusts.

Testing of the first demonstrator gearbox began on a specifically designed rig in May and having proven that the Power Gearbox is capable of managing the equivalent power of around 400 family cars at full throttle, testing will now focus on lower power functions such as endurance and reliability.

Rolls-Royce’s Power Gearbox is designed to run all the way up to 100,000 horsepower and future demonstrators are expected to achieve these levels. When running at maximum power, each pair of teeth on the gearbox will transmit more power than an entire grid of Formula 1 cars between them.

The Power Gearbox has a planetary design, with each ‘planet’ capable of holding the force of a Trent XWB engine at full throttle. It is designed to allow the shafts at the core of the engine to run at very high speeds while allowing the fan at the front of the engine to run at a slower speed. The associated improvement in efficiency and reduction in weight will allow the UltraFan engine to offer a 25% fuel efficiency improvement over the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engines.

Commenting on the milestone, Paul Stein, Rolls-Royce – Chief Technology Officer, said: “Setting this record is a great achievement for the team and I’m proud we’ve managed to get there so quickly. Our Power Gearbox technology is central to the success of the next generation of Rolls-Royce jet engines and I’m pleased to see us pushing back engineering boundaries with this work.”

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