UK engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce has revealed it has set a new record for the world’s most powerful aerospace gearbox, just months after testing started.
The Power Gearbox successfully reached 70,000 horsepower while undergoing tests at the company’s Dahlewitz facility in Germany. The gearbox is set to play a critical role in the company’s next-generation UltraFan engine when it becomes available from 2025, which it says will help deliver improved efficiency over a wide range of thrusts. The testing started in May on a specially designed rig and has proven that the gearbox can manage the equivalent of around 400 family cars at full throttle. Testing will now focus on lower power functions such as endurance and reliability, with future demonstrators expected to reach 100,000 horsepower.
Rolls-Royce says the Power Gearbox has a planetary design – which takes its name from the normal gear arrangement consisting of a central sun gear, the orbiting planet gears and the outer ring gear, or annulus – with each ‘planet’ capable of holding the force of a Trent XWB engine at full throttle. This design permits the shafts at the core of the engine to run at very high speeds while allowing the fan at the front to run at a slower speed. The associated improvement in efficiency and reduction in weight will allow the UltraFan engine to offer a 25% fuel burn improvement over the first-generation Trent engine.
Rolls-Royce is working in partnership with Liebherr-Aerospace through their Aerospace Transmission Technologies joint venture to develop manufacturing capability and capacity for the new gearbox.