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"World's most efficient aero engine" on its way to first A350 XWB


May 19, 2014

The first Trent XWB moving from the factory floor

The first Trent XWB moving from the factory floor

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Last year, the Airbus A350 XWB took to the air for the first time. Eleven months later, Rolls-Royce announces that the first production Trent XWB turbofan engine that powers the plane has left the factory and is on its way to Toulouse, France to be installed in a Qatar Airways A350 XWB. According to Rolls-Royce, Qatar airways has ordered 80 of the aircraft and the “world's most efficient aero engine” engine is the first of 1,600 ordered worldwide by 40 airlines around the world.

The result of almost a decade of parallel development, the Trent XWB was designed specially for the A350 XWB and is the sixth generation Rolls-Royce Trent engine. Taking to the air for the first time in June of last year, it’s already undergone extensive field testing in Bolivia, the UAE, and Canada for high altitude, hot weather, and cold weather performance respectively.

The three-shaft turbofan packs a lot of power behind its 3-m (118-in) fan. According to Rolls-Royce, it punches out 50,000 bhp for a takeoff thrust of up to 430 kN (97,000 ft-lb) as 1,440 kg (3,170 lb) of air flows through the engine every second. The company compares the force on a fan blade at takeoff to a freight train weighing almost 1,000 lb hanging off of each of the 68 turbine blades.

But the Trent XWB’s main selling point is its efficiency, burning fuel at 2,000⁰ C (3,600⁰ F), Rolls-Royce says that the XWB has a 16 percent advantage over the first Trent engines of 1995 and is 10 percent more efficient than the previous generation of engines. The company estimates it will give customers US$2.5 million in fuel savings per plane, per year.

"This is an exciting moment for all of us, and marks the first of many Trent XWB deliveries for service," said Chris Young, Rolls-Royce, Trent XWB Programme Director. "When we reach peak production in 2017 we will be delivering a Trent XWB every working day."

Source: Rolls-Royce

About the Author
David Szondy David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past. All articles by David Szondy

"The company compares the force on a fan blade at takeoff to a freight train weighing almost 1,000 lb hanging off of each of the 68 turbine blades."

This comparison makes absolutely no sense.

Understandably, any percentage gain in efficiency is great but is a 16% gain over 20 years par for the industry?


So how efficient is it, thermodynamically—55 percent? 60 percent? And how more more efficient is it than the runner-up?

Paul Stregevsky

If you make something 25% more efficient over a twenty year period, but usage goes up to 300% what is gained? It is projected that airline travel will triple by mid century.

Nelson Chick

GREAT! I would also like to see what is the specific fuel consumption? How much fuel/per time/per unit thrust? At what rpm? What is the bypass ratio?

Volodya Kotsev

Would not gallons / 1000 passenger miles give a better perspective of overall efficiency of the plane ?


@ Nelson Hyde Chick - At the risk of feeding the troll, what is gained is less fuel used overall.

Say you have a vehicle that gets 20 miles per gallon with a 5 gallon tank. Simple math says that you can go 100 miles on that tank.

Now, make an improvement on that vehicle so that it is 25% more efficient than it was, you are now able to get 25 miles per gallon. You can now go 125 miles on one tank of gas.

Now to triple that to 300 miles, at 20 miles per gallon you will need 15 gallons of fuel and at 25 miles per gallon you will need 12 gallons of fuel. To put it another way, for the same 15 gallons of fuel you can go 75 miles further at 25 miles per gallon than at 20 miles per gallon which brings us back to the 25% increase in efficiency.

Quite simply, your argument of 25% gain in efficiency against an increased usage of 300% with nothing gained is a strawman which can't stand on its own. Granted, efficiency does have an effect on how many people travel (due to the possibility of lower fares) but efficiency is not the only factor involved and the number of people traveling will go up regardless so is it better to have no gains in efficiency against a 300% usage increase or your mentioned 25% gain in efficiency against the same 300% usage increase?


rt1583! I am glad I am not the only one.

"The company compares the force on a fan blade at takeoff to a freight train weighing almost 1,000 lb hanging off of each of the 68 turbine blades."

What freight train weighs only "almost 1000 lbs."? That is a tiny freight train unless it is a model freight train in which case it is HUGE.

Are we talking axial load or centrifugal load? I would assume axial but then again?

I am more interested in how the turbine deals with 2000ºC temperature.

Dr. Veritas

A freight train weighs 1000 lbs?


The 1,000-lb freight train, and the ludicrous confusion of units of force (kN) with units of torque (ft-lb), together indicate a really sloppily-put together article. These clangers can't have come from the engineers of Rolls-Royce.

Tom Weymes

1000lb freight trains are so efficient! Why use a jet then?...

Andrew Zuckerman

"Most Efficient"? These kinds of statements must be carefully vetted before publication; for instance, the lay public doesn't know that light aircraft transport people with the same or better seat mile-per-gallon (SMPG) as most turbine powered airliners. The reasons are simple physics: speed costs fuel; light aircraft are slower than airline jets. At the same time, propellers are inherently more efficient at turning engine power into thrust.

The light aircraft efficiency equation will shortly get dramatically better as aerodiesel makers like Continental, Centurion and Safran increase market share, with new, highly efficient common-rail diesels that can run on a variety of fuels, including both jet fuel and diesel fuel. At the same time a dozen new companies like Titan, Wilksch and Deltahawk are poised to enter the aerodiesel market.

How efficient are they? An example might include Engineered Power Systems' 400 hp aerodiesel, which, if installed in Piper's popular Mirage 6-seat single, could produce well in excess of 100 SMPG at a conservative 230 mpg cruise speed. Airbus' mammoth A 380 can't get close to that efficiency, even fully loaded. You might want to do a story on these advances, or at least do some research.

Bruce Curtis
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