Rolls-Royce will begin ground-testing the first Trent XWB for the A350 in May, ahead of a 140h flight-test programme on board an A380 early in 2011.

The engine maker is assembling the first Trent XWB ahead of ground tests beginning at the end of May, says Airbus's A350 chief engineer Gordon McConnell. "R-R will have seven engines [testing] in the first six months of the programme, which is far ahead of what it's done on past programmes."

The first XWB engine nacelle will be delivered from Goodrich in August, which will be installed on the second engine to test.

Flight-testing will begin in the second quarter of 2011 with the Trent XWB installed in the No 2 position of Airbus's Trent 900-powered development A380 (MSN001), says McConnell, which is "one year before we fly the A350, so we'll have plenty of experience on the engine before then".

Airbus A380 test MSN001
 © Airbus
A Trent XWB will be installed in the No 2 position of Airbus's Trent 900-powered development A380 (MSN001)

McConnell says the Trent XWB's A380 flying testbed programme will be its biggest ever, with around 140 flying hours planned over "quite a period" to maximise the maturity of the engine.

The programme will test the engine's performance as well as the nacelle, and will include the hot weather flight-test campaign, as well as some natural icing and extended altitude trials. "We're very confident that this will give us a mature powerplant for first flight," he says.

The Trent XWB family comprises two basic engines to power the three A350 variants. The baseline 84,000lb-thrust (374kN) version for the A350-900 is derated to 75,000lb and 79,000lb for the -800, while an upgraded 93,000lb thrust version will power the A350-1000 stretch.

"R-R is working on the development of the -1000's engine now," says McConnell. "It will have some modifications to the fan module - it will be the same 118in [3m] diameter but will run slightly faster and have a new fan blade design - and some increases in temperatures brought by new materials technologies coming from its research programmes."

Source: Flight International