World's most fuel efficient engine powers first flight

Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the most efficient flying in the world today, have powered the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft to the skies for the first time this morning.

The aircraft took off from Toulouse, France, at 10am local time.

Tony Wood, President - Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, said: "We congratulate Airbus on today's huge achievement and look forward to supporting the A350 XWB to a successful entry into service and beyond. Our own employees are very proud to have delivered a global engine programme that has achieved new levels of efficiency."

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Nick Clegg, UK Deputy Prime Minister, added: "The A350-XWB's maiden flight is significant for Airbus, Rolls-Royce and the aerospace industry - it shows that government's long-term Aerospace Industrial Strategy is the right approach to ensure the UK remains Europe's number one aerospace manufacturer. This is a big moment for the aerospace industry and the aircraft's first flight marks the continued commitment to innovation and excellence, contributing to stable economic growth and jobs."

The Trent XWB is the fastest-selling of six Rolls-Royce Trent types of engine, with more than 1,300 already sold.

Rolls-Royce started the Trent XWB programme in 2006 and four years later ran the engine for the first time on a test bed. Since then, it has been tested all over the world including climate extremes from +42C in Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates to -23C in Iqaluit, Canada.

Twelve engines have been tested on the ground and, since February 2012, in the air on an A380 flying test bed, proving performance, endurance and safety.

The Trent XWB version that will power the A350-800 and A350-900 variants was awarded its "ticket to fly" in February with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification. A higher thrust version of the Trent XWB is under development for the A350-1000.

Trent XWB - incredible engineering by numbers:

  • The front fan is just under 10 feet across (9.8) and sucks in up to 1.3 tonnes of air every second at take-off.
  • The force on a fan blade at take-off is equivalent to a load of almost 1,000 tonnes, the same as a freight train hanging off each blade.
  • High pressure turbine blades inside the engine rotate at 12,500 rpm, with their tips reaching 1,200mph - twice the speed of sound.
  • At take off each of the engine's 68 high pressure turbine blades generates around 900 horsepower per blade - similar to a Formula One racing car.
  • At full power, air leaves the nozzle at the back of the engine travelling at almost 1000mph.

Source: Rolls-Royce Plc (LSE: RR.L)
Date: Jun 14, 2013