Rolls-Royce has flown, for the first time, the composite blades to be used in its future UltraFan and Advance engine programmes.

The carbon-titanium blades have been integrated into a Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine – normally used on the Boeing 787 – and installed on a Boeing 747-200 testbed in Arizona.

Rolls-Royce is developing the Advance engine for introduction in 2020 while the UltraFan would follow five years later.

Composite blade Rolls-Royce

Using the lighter blades along with a composite casing could trim some 680kg from the aircraft’s weight, the manufacturer claims.

Its high-bypass Advance engine is intended to slash fuel-burn by 20% and UltraFan will increase this saving to 25%.

The blades, which underwent ground crosswind testing in September, will be subjected to a series of flight tests.

Rolls-Royce test pilot Mark Lewis says the flight “went very well” and that the Trent 1000 demonstrator “performed perfectly”. He says the powerplant will be tested “more rigorously” over the next few months.

Source: Cirium Dashboard