Rolls-Royce chief engineer for the Trent 1000 program says the engine is "absolutely ready to fly" on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner later this month.

Andy Geer, chief engineer for the engine-maker's Trent 1000 programme says the first two of four 787 test aircraft powered by the Trent 1000, ZA001 and ZA002, have already amassed several hundred hours of ground engine runs since the first 787 engine start on 21 May.

"I'm impatient, if I'm being honest," says Geer of his excitement for 787 first flight.

With the delays to the 787 programme, says Geer, the past two years have ben used to further develop the engine fuel burn, overall maturity and integration of the aircraft's powerplant.

From a testing perspective, says Geer, "The first few flights are relatively uninteresting. My one job is to deliver boringly predictable thrust for the airplane."

Geer says engine shutdown and relights are not planned for the initial test flight. "Maybe on the second flight, they'll see how comfortable [The pilots] feel with the airplane."

Though Geer adds that "We've done extensive start and relight and performance work" on the 747 flying test bed, first flight, he says is "not a journey of discovery".

Because of the e-enabled nature of the 787's systems, the aircraft will broadcast summary engine telemetry via the ACARS link to Rolls-Royce in the UK during first flight for almost realtime monitoring of the engines.

Geer says that engine telemetry was monitored "in principle" on the Trent 900-powered A380 on its 2005 first flight, but the 787's engine health monitoring suite enables the 787's first flight to be the "first time that capability will be available on a flight test programme," says Geer.

The Trent 1000 has already successfully completed its required 3,000 cycle ETOPS testing by in August aimed at enabling 330 min ETOPS approval for the 787 at entry into service.

The engine-maker completed certification of the Trent 1000 on 7 August 2007.

Rolls-Royce has used the intervening two years to drive improvement in the twin power-plants, making up shortfall in specific fuel consumption in early development tests.

The suite of improvements, called Package B, includes a revised six-stage low pressure turbine (LPT) design, high-aspect-ratio blades, relocation of the intermediate-pressure (IP) compressor bleed offtake ports and fan outlet guide vanes with improved aerodynamics.

The changes were first validated through bench testing during the July 2009 on engines 10008/4 and 10027.

ZA001 through ZA004 will conduct their respective first flights using the current Package A standard engine, while ZA004 will have its engines swapped out with the Package B engine during the middle of next year for ETOPS testing.

The Trent 1000 engines featured on the fifth and sixth 787s delivered to All Nippon Airways are expected to feature specific fuel consumption within 1% of targets set by Rolls-Royce.

Geer says Rolls-Royce plans to meet or surpass spec SFC by the time the 787-9 enters service with Air New Zealand at the end of 2013.

The engine-maker has already demonstrated a host of improvements to internal air sealing and turbine hot section cooling, as well as aerodynamic improvements throughout the compressor and turbine stages of the engine. The improvements were run in March 2009 on engine 10001/4.

"We have an outline of the content we want to put on the -9 engine," says Richard Jenkins, head of marketing for Rolls-Royce's Boeing programmes, who expects the requirements for the engine early next year from Boeing.

The "formal start to the process for the -9 derivative will start next year", he adds.

Early systems proving and structural design validation on the 787-8 will help guide Rolls-Royce to "double check" that there are no changes to the structural or electrical requirements of the engine.

The thrust range for the 787-9 is between 64,000 and 74,000 lbs, though the standard will be 74,000 lbs.

Rolls-Royce says that the Trent 1000 development programme has already completed more than 12,150 cycles and 6,100 hours.

All Nippon Airways is expected to take delivery of its first 787 in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news