Highlights of the year
Following a significant period of investment in new product
development, the emphasis of our technology investment is changing.
The priority is shifting to unit cost reduction, development of
derivatives, re-use of generic technologies, aftermarket services
and environmental impact. We have developed a structured approach
to the acquisition of technology, over the short, medium and long
- New fan and compressor test facility opened at Wildau in
Germany and the Joint Strike Fighter LiftFan™ test facility
commissioned in the US.
- Four new University Technology Centres opened in the UK and
- First run of the Trent 900 for Airbus A380, incorporating a
world leading hollow titanium swept fan and high pressure system
- Low emissions combustor successfully tested. Results are on
target to deliver a NOx emissions reduction to 50 per cent of the
current regulatory maximum.
- First application of Azipull propulsor for a Norwegian ferry.
Sea trials at Fjellstrand completed successfully.
- First production of hollow blisk fan delivering low weight
requirement for JSF STOVL capability.
Our philosophy is to obtain maximum value by investing once and
using many times.
We draw upon the technological advances of aero products and
directly apply them to the marine and energy product range,
reducing risk and cost. The Marine Trent MT30 is the latest
addition to the Trent family and its design change from the Trent
800 aero engine is limited to what is necessary to adapt the engine
to its new environment, resulting in 80 per cent commonality.
Similarly, the industrial Trent is based upon the Trent 800 and
incorporates the latest aero engine components, materials and
technologies to make it the most efficient industrial gas turbine
in its class.
We aim to deliver single engine architectures that can satisfy
various customer requirements, stretching across civil and military
as well as sector specific products.
We achieved this with the AE 1107, AE 3007 and the AE 2100, where
military technology has been used to develop an engine family which
has then been incorporated into civil applications. Experience
built up by the civil fleet is now being transferred back into the
military applications to improve operability and reliability.
Rolls-Royce places significant emphasis on engineering
unit cost reduction. This is achieved through a number of routes
including: the design and multiple use of generic engine
architectures across business sectors; the design of component
families benefiting from efficiencies in design, manufacture and
materials; parametric design; materials research; generic and lower
cost manufacturing processes, and supply chain development.
Cost reduction is often possible through technology transfer even
if components cannot be directly used. Computational Fluid Dynamics
methods are sufficiently generic that they can be used for the
design of an aero engine swept fan or a propeller design for a
The development of technology to support our aftermarket services
aims to maximise utilisation, minimise disruption and increase
product reliability. We achieve this through utilising fleet wide,
in-service data to anticipate engine maintenance requirements.
We have a structured technology acquisition vision.
Vision5 ensures that our current products remain market
leaders in every aspect of performance, reliability and cost. We do
this by applying ‘off the shelf’ technology to near-term new
products and to our existing products via upgrade and improvement
programmes. An example of this is the world leading swept fan
technology for the Trent 900.
Vision10 enables the development of a further generation of
market leading products, through the introduction of leading edge,
minimum risk technology which we are demonstrating and validating
today. This is exemplified by the ANTLE programme, which is a
European Union programme led by Rolls-Royce and
supported by the UK Government’s Department of Trade and Industry.
Other key examples are the demonstration of the next-generation
marine water jet technology, and the demonstration and expansion of
solid oxide fuel cell hybrids into larger scale power generation.
Vision20 includes technologies that are currently emerging
or are, as yet, unproven. It will ensure that we are prepared for
the future by focusing our extensive research base on the
technology requirements of future generations of products across
the aerospace, marine and energy sectors. New engine concepts
including advanced cycles and alternative fuels will require new
technologies to be developed. A few examples of such technologies
include advanced high temperature materials, electrical material
advances and novel heat exchangers for aerospace applications.
Our research base is global, encompassing international centres in
Collaborative research into areas such as turbo machinery and
high-temperature materials is conducted with some of North
America’s foremost academic centres of technological excellence.
Several institutes in China, Japan and Singapore work with
Rolls-Royce in combustion, powerplant integration,
diagnostic and new material disciplines. During 2003 we opened four
new University Technology Centres (UTCs): Sheffield UTC in advanced
electrical machines and drives; UMIST UTC in electrical systems for
extreme environments; Strathclyde UTC in electrical power systems
and Purdue UTC in high-mach propulsion. We now have 20 University
UTCs in the UK, one in Sweden, one in the US and one in Germany.
They provide a critical underpinning of technology capability,
which in recent years has formed a central role in maintaining the
Group’s competitive position.