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designed with distinctive technologies and systems which are more capable and complex than any of the company’s other testbeds. It conducted its first run earlier this year on a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine. According to Warren East, chief executive, Rolls-Royce, Testbed 80 is the largest facility of its type in the world. However, it is not only big, it is also smart and features the most advanced testing technology the company has ever used. “As the new global hub of our testing capability, it will support the next stage of our UltraFan programme as we begin ground testing the first demonstrator in 2022. This incredible piece of infrastructure is a very visible sign of our commitment to this site and secures the future of Derby as the home of large engine development, continuing a history that began in the late 1960s with the RB211.” Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng commented that the government is supporting Rolls-Royce’s development of the highly-efficient UltraFan engine, as well as its investment in green and cutting-edge aerospace technology in the UK that will create high-skilled, well-paid jobs for decades to come. “As the civil aviation market recovers, the innovation of great British companies such as Rolls-Royce and the entire aerospace sector are central to our plans to build back better from the pandemic and end our contribution to climate change by 2050,” he says.


“This project can deliver the world’s first truly ‘green’ passenger carrying airline services and the whole team is proud of what Project Fresson has achieved so far and excited about what is to come,” he says. Jenny Kavanagh, chief strategy officer at


Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, is optimistic after the biggest crisis in aviation’s history caused by Covid-19 restrictions. “It’s important that, as the sector builds


back better, it does so with sustainability at its heart. Project Fresson is more than just a technology demonstrator; it has one focus above all others: real operational and commercial viability,” she says. Project Fresson is supported by the ATI


Programme, a joint government and industry investment to maintain and grow the UK’s competitive position in civil aerospace design and manufacture. The programme, delivered through a partnership between the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK, addresses technology, capability and supply chain challenges.


SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUEL PROJECTS Ricardo has also recently become involved in the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Green Fuels, Green Skies project as the project manager for the Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) competition. The competition is designed to look at alternative fuels and innovation in aero engines to reduce emissions. One company at the forefront of researching green aviation is Rolls-Royce. Although no longer involved in the Fresson Project, Rolls-Royce is continuing to be actively involved in research into the use of hydrogen in aviation. Rolls-Royce’s armoury of technology to bolster its search for greener solutions has just been enhanced with the opening of “Testbed 80”, the world’s largest and smartest indoor aerospace testbed located in Derby, UK.


SMART AERO-ENGINE TEST FACILITY The completion of the project is a major milestone after almost three years of construction and a £90m investment. With an internal area of 7,500m2


, Testbed 80 was


SUSTAINABILITY STRATEGY Testbed 80 will support all three pillars of sustainability. Firstly, continuing to improve the efficiency of the gas turbine. The facility has been designed to test a range of today’s engines, including the Trent XWB and the Trent 1000, but will also have the capability to test the UltraFan demonstrator, the blueprint for the next generation of Rolls- Royce engines. UltraFan will be 25 per cent more efficient than the first Trent engine, and ground testing the demonstrator at the testbed will begin in 2022. Secondly, Rolls-Royce is committed to promoting the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), which can already be used as “drop-in” fuels in its existing engines. Testbed 80 has been designed to support this commitment – it is equipped with a 140,000-litre fuel tank for different fuel types, including SAFs. Finally, in line with the company’s ambition to pioneer novel, more sustainable technologies, the testbed is designed to have the capability to test the hybrid or all-electric flight systems of the future. T&TH


June 2021 /// Testing & Test Houses /// 31


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