Rolls-Royce begins building world’s largest aero-engine

31 Mar 2021 by Tom Otley
Rolls-Royce UltraFan-V_01

Rolls-Royce has begun work on the world’s largest aero-engine, the UltraFan.

The work which is being undertaken at a dedicated Demo Works facility in Derby, UK, is for a demonstrator engine with a fan diameter of 140 inches.

The engine is the basis for a potential new family of UltraFan engines able to power both narrowbody and widebody aircraft and deliver a 25 per cent fuel efficiency improvement compared with the first generation of Trent engine.

The engine will have Carbon titanium fan blades and a composite casing that reduces weight by up to 1,500lb per aircraft. When on test at Rolls-Royce’s new £90 million Testbed 80 facility, data can be taken from more than 10,000 parameters, with each fan blade having a ‘digital twin’ which stores real-life test data, allowing engineers to predict in-service performance.  Work will be completed by the end of 2021.

Rolls-Royce says that since gas turbines will continue to be the bedrock of long-haul aviation for many years, the UltraFan’s efficiency “will help improve the economics of an industry transition to more sustainable fuels, which are likely to be more expensive in the short-term than traditional jet fuel,”

The company says that the first test run of the engine will be conducted on 100 per cent Sustainable Aviation Fuel.


Significant investment has been made to develop the UltraFan demonstrator and associated technologies by Rolls-Royce and a variety of funding agencies, including the Aerospace Technology Institute and Innovate UK (United Kingdom), LuFo (Germany) and Clean Sky Joint Undertaking (European Union).

UK Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “The UltraFan project is a perfect example of how we are working with industry to deliver green, sustainable flight for decades to come. Backed with significant government support, this project represents the scale of ambition for Britain’s crucial aerospace sector.


Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce, President – Civil Aerospace, said: “This is an exciting moment for all of us at Rolls-Royce. Our first engine demonstrator, UF001, is now coming together and I’m really looking forward to seeing it built and ready for test. It is arriving at a time when the world is seeking ever more sustainable ways to travel in a post-COVID 19 world, and it makes me and all our team very proud to know we are part of the solution.

“I am delighted that the UK and German governments have supported us in making these significant ground-breaking technology investments. The Aerospace Technology Institute and LuFo programmes, as well as the EU’s Clean Sky, have all helped bring us a step closer to realising the enormous environmental and economic benefits of Ultra Fan.”

Work is also underway on UltraFan’s carbon titanium fan system in Bristol, UK. Its 50MW power gearbox is being constructed in Dahlewitz, Germany.

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