Customers love businesses that go that extra mile to meet their needs. In the case of Airbus, Rolls-Royce, and the new A350-1000 aircraft, make that 400 extra nautical miles.
The A350 XWB is a long-range family of aircraft with three passenger versions, allowing an airline to match an aircraft to its own fleet service needs. Airbus forecasts around 5,800 new twin-aisle mid-size passenger aircraft will be required over the next 20 years.
The A350-1000 is the largest of the three, typically with around 350 seats. To date, four key customers have ordered a total of 75 of the aircraft, which has a large potential market ahead of it.
Following the A350 XWB family initial launch in 2006 it became clear, as Airbus continued to discuss its plans with the marketplace, that airlines would welcome even greater range and payload capacity.
This would enable the aircraft to comfortably support long-haul routes for emerging markets such as Shanghai-Boston or Paris-Santiago, as well as more traditional ones like Manchester-Los Angeles or Dubai-Melbourne.
To meet that requirement, new targets were set for the aircraft: range increased by 400 nautical miles with a full load of 350 passengers, or alternatively an extra 4.5 tonnes of payload at any given range, without affecting the aircraft’s efficiency.
That in turn presented a challenge to Rolls-Royce and its Trent XWB engine which has been selected to power all versions of the A350 XWB.
The Trent XWB is the fastest-selling of all Trent engines producing 93,000lb maximum thrust. Its design set new standards in fuel efficiency and low carbon emissions – 16 per cent better than the first generation of Trent engines which entered service in the mid-1990s. Rolls-Royce needed to add an additional 4,000lb of thrust without compromising its fuel efficiency performance to meet the new A350-1000 targets.
To meet the challenge the Trent XWB team committed to a new version of the engine, the most powerful engine ever for an Airbus aircraft, with new high temperature turbine technology, a scaled-up core and fan aerodynamic improvements to give a larger airflow through the same intake. The extra power has been achieved without an increase in fuel consumption from the 93,000lb thrust design, neither has it required an increase in the Trent XWB fan diameter, which at 118 inches is still the largest for a Trent.
Rolls-Royce will now finalise the engine configuration by mid-2012, with a first run in mid-2014 to support the A350-1000 entry into service in mid-2017.
A Trent XWB being prepared for test at the Rolls-Royce facility in Derby, UK