Rolls-Royce today reported a flawless performance by its Trent 1000 engine during its first flight on the company’s Boeing 747 flying test bed.
The first phase of the flight test programme for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s launch engine is taking place at Waco, Texas.
Rolls-Royce Chief Test pilot Phill O’Dell said: “We gave the engine a hard time for its first flight, but it did everything we asked. It was very stable and predictable.
“Normally at this stage we would have expected to leave the engine at fixed thrust, but we gained confidence so quickly that we used it to manoeuvre the aircraft. We will now move quickly to aggressive operability testing.”
Dominic Horwood, Director Boeing Programmes, Rolls-Royce, added: “We’re delighted with this result. This is a fantastic team performance involving the Rolls-Royce and L-3 partnership with the support of Boeing. In addition to our certification programme, which is on track, this is a further step to demonstrating confidence in the engine ahead of first flight on the 787. We have only a few tests over the next few weeks to complete the certification validation programme.”
The reason for using the flying test bed at this stage is to validate the interface of the engine with the airframe and intake. Sufficient altitude test data has already been gathered for engine certification purposes through ground-based testing which is able to simulate altitude conditions.
The Trent 1000 has completed its altitude test phase at the Arnold Engineering Development Centre (AEDC) in Tullahoma, Tennessee. This has included complete icing compliance, engine operability and in-flight restarts across the flight envelope. The engine has performed excellently throughout altitude testing and the quality of data from the controlled environment at AEDC has met altitude certification requirements.
The flying test bed, a 747-200 aircraft, was converted by L-3 Communications at the company’s Waco base. This included removing one of the original Rolls-Royce RB211-524C engines to accommodate the Trent 1000.
The modification also involved installing equipment to dissipate the half a megawatt of electricity produced by each Trent 1000 in flight. The 787 will use this energy – rather than the alternative of drawing surplus air from the engine – to power the aircraft’s control surfaces and cabin systems.
In recent development work, Rolls-Royce has also successfully completed the fan blade containment test. A Trent 1000 was accelerated to full speed before a fan blade was released at its root by an explosive charge. The engine’s behaviour after the event was as expected and comfortably met certification requirements.
Separate bird ingestion tests simulated the impact of a single two and a half kilogram bird, and a flock of one kilogram birds. The Trent 1000 suffered thrust loss of less than two per cent during the two tests – well below the 25 per cent power loss allowed.
Other testing has involved high temperature running and cyclic endurance tests equivalent to thousands of normal in-service hours. Key certification requirements met are the 150 hour engine type test and the FAA 1,000 cycle initial maintenance interval test.
Rolls-Royce has delivered the first set of Trent 1000 engines to Boeing, which are currently being installed to support the 787 Dreamliner’s roll-out next month.
Later this year, Trent 1000s will begin flight testing on four 787s as the programme moves towards entry into service with launch customer ANA (All Nippon Airways) in 2008.