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First flight of Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 aero engine; highest thrust, 3D-printed structure

Rolls-Royce announced the first flight of the higher thrust Trent XWB-97 aero engine, demonstrating both additional thrust capability and ground-breaking new technical innovations, such as the world’s largest Additive Layer Manufactured (ALM) structure. The flight took place in Toulouse on board an Airbus A380 Flying Test Bed (FTB) aircraft, with one of the four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines replaced with a single Trent XWB-97.

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Advanced components and novel features of the Trent XWB. Source: Rolls-Royce. Click to enlarge.

The Trent XWB-97 is designed to power the A350-1000, due for Entry Into Service in 2017. It delivers up to 97,000 lbf thrust at take-off power. It has been developed from the Trent XWB-84 which provides 84,000 lbf thrust at take-off power. Rolls-Royce says the Trenet XWB has a 10% fuel burn advantage over its competitors.

The Trent XWB was always designed with a higher thrust variant in mind and during the -84 development program we ran engines up to the -97 conditions to improve our understanding of the design at the higher thrust levels. We then took that experience to help optimize the core around the A350-1000 requirements, adding HP turbine technologies to maintain efficiency and time on wing from full temperatures margins. This means our customers get an engine with greater capability, but without any compromises.

—Andy Gwynne, Chief Engineer for the Trent XWB-97

The FTB program is intended to continue over the coming months demonstrating performance, operability and robustness of the engine and other power plant systems, in preparation for the first flight of the A350-1000 next year.

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