Rolls-Royce and Liebherr-Aerospace have agreed to establish a 50:50 joint venture to develop manufacturing capability and capacity for the power gearbox for Rolls-Royce’s new UltraFan™ engine.
UltraFan™, a geared design, is based on technology that could be ready for service from 2025, and will offer at least 25 per cent improvement in fuel burn compared with the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engines.
The power gearbox will enable the UltraFan™ to deliver efficient power over a range of take-off thrusts for high-bypass ratio engines of the future. For the highest thrust engines, each single gearbox will be capable of handling the equivalent horsepower produced by more than 500 family cars.
The joint venture, located in Friedrichshafen, will provide production engineering for the power gear drive train components. The manufacturing of the components will initially be done in existing Liebherr facilities. As production volumes increase, the joint venture will look at options for creating a standalone manufacturing infrastructure.
Rolls-Royce will continue to lead the design definition and design integration of the power gearbox, as well as the testing activities.
Rolls-Royce has significant experience of the use of power gearboxes, with four geared designs currently in production (AE2100, T56, LiftFan and Model 250) and with thousands of engines in service.
The majority of the design expertise of the new power gearbox will reside within Rolls-Royce Germany. Rolls-Royce has started building a new power gearbox test centre at its Dahlewitz site south of Berlin, representing an investment of more than €80m, partly funded by the Brandenburg government.
The establishment of the joint venture is subject to the usual legal approvals.