Rolls-Royce has selected aerospace manufacturer AeroTEC to modify its new Boeing 747-400 commercial aircraft to a flying testbed.

Acquired by Rolls-Royce under a $70m investment plan, the 364-seat aircraft operated for more than 20 years by Qantas Airways.

During the two-year contract, AeroTEC engineers and technicians will convert the aircraft into an advanced flying testbed.

The remodelled aircraft will be equipped with a wide-ranging instrumentation and systems that are capable of in-flight measurement of engine performance.

For AeroTEC, the contract will generate 40 additional jobs in Moses Lake while expanding its facilities.

AeroTEC president and founder Lee Human said: “The AeroTEC team is proud to partner with Rolls-Royce to modify their new flying testbed.

“This testbed will enable the development of new, highly advanced engine technologies designed to increase efficiency and minimise environmental impacts. Our engineering, modification, and test teams in Seattle and Moses Lake are already hard at work preparing to bring Rolls-Royce’s vision to reality.”

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The testbed will test engines for both commercial and business aircraft.

The new testbed will complement the existing Rolls-Royce’s flying testbed, Boeing 747-200, which has conducted 285 test flights so far.

Rolls-Royce Development and Experimental Engineering director Gareth Hedicker said: “This is a significant investment that will expand our world-leading test capabilities even further and will allow us to obtain more flight test data than ever before.

“After transporting millions of passengers on this beloved aircraft for 20 years, we’re excited to power it into the future.”