Rolls-Royce to Create New UK Composites Technology Hub

The new advanced manufacturing facility will be at the forefront of developing next generation fan blades and fan cases, made using carbon-fibre composite materials, for Rolls-Royce’s aerospace engines on the future.

The Rolls-Royce carbon/titanium blades are a key feature of the new Advance engine design, unveiled last year, which will offer at least 20% less fuel burn and CO2 emissions than the first generation of the Trent aero-engine. The blades and associated composite engine casings will form part of the new CTi fan system that could reduce weight by up to 1,500lb per aircraft, the equivalent of carrying seven more passengers and their luggage.

Tony Wood, Rolls-Royce, President – Aerospace said:

This state-of-the-art facility will give us the opportunity to further develop our world-leading composite technology and manufacturing techniques for our next generation of engine design. These high-technology lightweight components have the potential to significantly improve the fuel consumption and emissions of future aircraft through our new Rolls-Royce Advance and UltraFan demonstrators.

The new facility will be developed within an existing building alongside Rolls-Royce’s new facility for carbon-fibre electrical harness rafts, currently being constructed on the Bristol site. Both facilities will benefit from manufacturing techniques being developed in partnership with the National Composites Centre in Bristol, and research being conducted at the Rolls-Royce University Technology Centre at the University of Bristol.

Rolls-Royce’s existing CTi manufacturing technology capability, along with around 40 current employees, will be transferred from its composites location on the Isle of Wight during 2017, meaning a potential additional 80 roles could be created in Bristol over the next four years. The UK Government has provided an additional £7.4m in funding support to the establishment of the pre-production facility and equipment at the Isle of Wight facility and these will be further developed at the new pre-production Rolls-Royce facility in Bristol.

A set of the CTi fan blades, incorporated into a Trent 1000 ‘donor’ engine, successfully completed a full flight test programme on a Rolls-Royce 747 flying test bed at Tucson, Arizona, USA back in December last year. A rigorous testing programme of the complete fan set continues to take place throughout 2015.