Airbus A380 flies over to say ‘thanks’ to Rolls-Royce in Derby

Friday, 23 March 2007

An Airbus A380, powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines built in Derby, is due to fly over the company’s Derby facilities on Monday 26 March as a thank you to employees. The aircraft is scheduled to appear in the skies over the Sinfin site at around 11.30 am before flying down to Bristol, where it will fly over the Airbus and Rolls-Royce facilities, and land at the Airbus facility in Filton.

Rolls-Royce designed and built the Trent 900 in Derby, but for many of the employees, the A380’s inaugural visit to the East Midlands will be their first opportunity to see their engine perform on the double-decker aircraft.

At the controls of the A380 as it makes its way across the city will be Rolls-Royce Chief Test Pilot, Phill O’Dell. Cruising above the Rolls-Royce facilities in Victory Road at 1,500 feet, the Trent-powered A380 will show Rolls-Royce employees what they have been working towards since the project began 11 years ago.

Chris Cholerton, Director – Airbus Production Programmes at Rolls-Royce, said: "An A380 flying over our factories is the ultimate thank you to our employees for the amount of effort they have put into making the Trent 900 a success. I’m sure it will be a proud moment for the people in Derby who have literally put the A380 into the air.

“The engines have performed extremely well throughout the test programme, but what is really impressing everyone on the A380 test flights is how quiet the engine is.”

The A380 scheduled to perform the fly-by is MSN004. The engines on this aircraft have achieved a number of key milestones, including cold start tests in Iqaluit, Canada in temperatures of -29° Celsius. At the other end of the spectrum, MSN004’s Trent 900s also proved themselves in harsh hot weather conditions during the aircraft’s hot trials in the United Arab Emirates, where daily temperatures reached up to 47º Celsius.

The Trent 900 will power the A380 into service with launch customer Singapore Airlines, which is due to receive its first aircraft later this year. The Trent 900, one of two engine choices available for the A380, has won a 58 per cent market share.

  1. The Trent 900 has now accumulated over 9,000 flying hours on four of the five flight test A380s, and completed in excess of 31,000 cycles in ground running and on the aircraft.
  2. Seven out of the ten airline customers who have made engine selections to date on the A380 have selected the Trent 900. Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Qantas, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines, Etihad Airways and China Southern have placed orders for 90 Trent-powered aircraft, giving the Trent 900 a 58 per cent market share.
  3. Phill O’Dell joined Rolls-Royce in November 2001 having completed 18 years in the Royal Air Force. He has contributed to all major engine development programmes and works extensively with current operators of Rolls-Royce products, supporting flight operations departments worldwide. Phill frequently flies test flights with Airbus at Toulouse and in the near future he will form part of the flight test team for the flying test bed in support of the Trent 1000/Boeing 787 development programme.

Trent 900 Facts

  • The Trent 900 has been designed to minimise its environmental impact.
  • It is the world’s cleanest high-thrust engine and is well below all current and proposed legislation on emissions.
  • The Trent 900 enables the A380 to meet the stringent noise limits for airports such as London Heathrow.
  • The diameter of the Trent 900 - 2.95 metres, or nearly 10 feet – makes it the largest engine Rolls-Royce has ever built. But the size also contributes to its quietness. Engines generate thrust by accelerating air through the engine. As noise is actually movement of air, having a large fan, moving the air more slowly, means a much quieter engine.
  • The engine’s hollow, titanium fan blades suck in over 1.25 tons of air every second. It would empty a squash court in less than a second and air passing through the engine is squeezed to more than 700lb per square inch – over 50 times normal pressure at sea level.
  • At take-off, the A380’s four Trent 900s deliver the thrust equivalent to the power of more than 3,500 family cars and each of the 70 high pressure turbine blades produces over 800hp at take-off….more power than a Formula One racing car.
  • Temperatures in the engine core are half those on the surface of the sun – hotter than the melting point of the metals that make up the components for these parts.

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