Rolls-Royce, a British aerospace and defense company, has formally launched its new ‘Testbed 80’ facility. This building, located near Derby, is the “world’s largest and smartest indoor aerospace testbed.” Kwasi Kwarteng, a British politician, was among those present at the testbed’s unveiling, which had its initial run on an engine earlier this year.
The formal start
On May 27th, Rolls-Royce announced the formal opening of its £90 million ($128 million) Testbed 80 facility. The inside space of the massive building alone occupies a larger surface area than a football field, covering more than 7,500 square meters. Rolls-Royce designed and built the facility in collaboration with MDS Aero Support Corporation.
Derby is an important location for Rolls-Royce, with engine testing dating back to the 1960s. The business tested the RB211 in the city of East Midlands in the later half of this decade. This engine was later used on Boeing (747, 757, and 767), Lockheed (L-1011′ TriStar,’ and Tupolev aircraft (Tu-204). Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce, stated:
“Testbed 80 is the world’s largest facility of its kind. It is, however, not just large but also intelligent, with the most advanced testing technology we have ever employed. It will assist the next stage of our UltraFan program, when we begin ground testing the first demonstrator in 2022, as the new global center of our testing capability.”
The UK government was represented at the event by Kwasi Kwarteng MP. Mr. Kwarteng is also the Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. He also stated:
“This testbed at Derby demonstrates that the United Kingdom remains a world leader in aero-engine technology. I’m happy that we’re assisting Rolls-Royce in the development of the ultra-efficient UltraFan engine, as well as investing in green and cutting-edge aerospace technology here in the UK, which will generate high-skilled, well-paid employment for decades to come.”
The first run was earlier this year.
Although the Testbed 80 facility was officially opened this week, it has been in operation for several months. Following nearly three years of building work on the project, Rolls-Royce performed its initial engine run on the new testbed in January 2021.
The Trent XWB-97, present on the Airbus A350, was used in the first test run. Aside from its size, what distinguishes this facility is its data collecting capabilities. Indeed, the testbed can gather up to 1.3 billion data points every minute from over 100,000 parameters. The facility can also run on environmentally friendly aviation fuels (SAFs).
In addition, the world’s biggest engine is being built.
Rolls-Testbed Royce’s 80 is not the only recent project with a focus on size. Indeed, the business intends to create the world’s biggest aircraft engine. It started making this massive component, known as the UltraFan, about two months ago. Its huge fan will have a diameter of 140 inches or 3.5 meters.
This amount is astounding in and of itself, but there is one statistic that truly emphasizes its width. The engine alone is wider than the complete fuselage of an Airbus A220! Rolls-Royce hopes to finish the first UltraFan engine before the end of the year. Following that, it will be subjected to data-driven testing at the newly opened Testbed 80 facility.