Rolls-Royce has started testing of the Advanced Low-Pressure system (ALPS) for the UltraFan engine design.

The company’s engineers in Derby, UK, have tested all composite elements of the ALPS on a donor engine. These components include fan blades, fan case and annulus fillers.

In 2014, Rolls-Royce tested the composite carbon/titanium (CTi) fan system for the UltraFan design.

The components are manufactured using fully automated construction methods at the company’s Composites Technology Facility.

UltraFan is a geared design with a variable pitch fan system. The engine is designed to deliver significant weight, noise and fuel burn reductions.

“These incredible technologies are taking our world-leading fan efficiency to the next level.”

According to Rolls-Royce, UltraFan will be 25% more efficient than a first-generation Trent engine.

The future engine comes with a high-power gearbox that is expected to deliver efficiency at high bypass ratios.

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The company noted that each fan blade comprises 500 layers of carbon fibre materials and is finished with a leading titanium edge to offer extreme protection against foreign objects and bird strikes.

Rolls-Royce Civil Aerospace Demonstrator Programmes chief engineer Ash Owen said: “These incredible technologies are taking our world-leading fan efficiency to the next level.

“More than a decade of research and development has brought us to this point and I’m confident that after extreme weather testing in Canada and performance testing in Germany, we can prove ALPS technology even further here in Derby, moving us one step closer to our UltraFan demonstrator.”

The company is also developing a digital twin for each blade. Data collected during testing will be fed into the digital twins.

This will enable allow engineers to predict the in-service performance of each blade.

Rolls-Royce is developing the ALPS in partnership with various entities including Clean Sky, Innovate UK, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Aerospace Technology Institute, ITP Aero and GKN.