Rolls-Royce is preparing to test its upgraded Adour engine for the first time next year. The UK company expects to sign a contract with the first customer, South Africa, in the next few months to provide the powerplant for its BAE Systems Hawk trainer purchase.

The Adour, originally developed in a joint venture with Turboméca, is being upgraded largely for Hawks ordered as Lead In Fighter Trainers (LIFT). Early lift customers Australia and Canada will not be fitting the engine. Hawk LIFTs have a digital cockpit that makes it practical to integrate electronic engine controls.

Engine runs will take place by the end of next year, says Charles Hughes, R-R's director - JSF and Adour. Service entry is not due until South Africa takes delivery of its Hawks from 2005.

Hughes says the aim in developing the Adour 900 is to double engine life to 4,000h. Thrust is also increased by about 10% to 6,500lb (29kN) over the Adour 871.

The life increase is achieved by fitting the Adour with a full authority digital engine control (FADEC) for the first time and introducing new R-R technologies into the design to increase margins.

Three-dimensional aerofoils, latest combustor technologies and new cooling patterns in the turbine will be introduced, and the mass flow increased. Hughes says this is "not high risk as it takes today's technologies and materials".

R-R is looking at introducing these features into earlier Adours, says Hughes, but there are problems with integrating a FADEC-controlled engine to a Hawk with no electronic flight instrumentation system.

Potential future applications for the Adour include using the engine's core as the basis for a powerplant for unmanned combat air vehicles.

Meanwhile, R-R is continuing to develop the Adour 106 for the Royal Air Force's Sepecat Jaguar fleet. Hughes says the engine is essentially an Adour 871 with an afterburner.

R-R is due to deliver the first improved engine to BAE next year for flight development. Engines will be upgraded from 104 to zero-lifed 106 standard when they return to R-R's overhaul factory at East Kilbride, Scotland.

Source: Flight International