Rolls-Royce has begun assembly work on the first production Trent XWB engine to power the initial Airbus A350-900 destined for launch customer Qatar Airways.
The UK engine manufacturer will start work on the second powerplant to complete the shipset for delivery to the airframer's Toulouse assembly line in the middle of the year, says R-R's Tent XWB programme director Chris Young.
The final pair of 84,000lb-thrust turbofans for the MSN5 prototype, the last of Airbus's flight-test fleet for the -900 variant, were handed over to the airframer shortly before the start of the Singapore air show, says Young. Their delivery marks the end of pre-production activities for the engine, as R-R moves to the assembly phase of the programme at its Derby facility.
Initial sorties aboard Airbus's A380 flying test-bed conducted in 2012 have "driven maturity into the engine" says Young. Some design changes were required, he says, but "we fixed pretty much every single issue" prior to the start of the A350's flight-test campaign.
So far the two flying prototypes have logged around 900h and engine performance is "going very well, there have been no real problems at all", says Young.
Recent activities have included hot and high trials in Cochabamba and La Paz, Bolivia using test aircraft MSN3. At 12h 48min, the sector to the Andean country was the twinjet's longest yet, notes Young.
In the meantime R-R is continuing test-bench evaluations of the powerplant "in order to prove the robustness of the programme" in terms of "performance and functionality".
In all, the 13 engines produced for the ground-based trials have so far accumulated 6,000h over 11,250 cycles.
Work to validate the Trent XWB's 350min ETOPS performance is underway at R-R's Stennis, Mississippi facility, says Young, and will tests will be carried out to accumulate 4,250 simulated flight cycles.
A portion of cold-weather testing had been completed in Manitoba, Canada, with further work due to be conducted in Derby with the aim of proving cold-start performance down to -40deg C.
"We are doing a lot of work which gives us confidence and allows us to de-risk the engine," says Young.
Meanwhile, early production activities continue on the 97,000lb-rated variant of the Trent XWB for the stretched A350-1000.
Assembly work has commenced on the initial test engine, says Young, with it due to perform its first run in mid-2015.
A minimum of eight test powerplants will be made in its Derby pre-production facility, with the potential to assemble further examples if required. Eventually, manufacture of the higher-thrust model will be merged onto the same flow line as the 84,000lb-thrust variant for the A350-900 and -800.
Although a continued diminution of the -800 shrink variant's backlog - down to 46 according to Airbus's most recent figures - has prompted suggestions that the airframer could accelerate the certification and entry-into-service dates for the -1000, R-R plays down the possibility.
"For us we have agreed a programme with Airbus and we are working to deliver against that programme. I don't think either of us is looking to bring that forward," says Young.
Instead the focus is on delivery and "being on time". However Young points out that there is some slack built into its planning as "contingency" to cope with "unexpected arisings".