Offshore : Rolls-Royce veut entrer au capital du Norvégien
Rolls-Royce is preparing to test an upgraded version of its venerable T56 turboprop to boost performance of the Lockheed Martin C-130, as well as cut fuel consumption by up to 12%.
Launched in response to U.S. government calls for reduced dependence on foreign oil, the upgrade is aimed at the C-130H’s T56-15 Series 3, and is also expected to result in improved availability and reliability. “It will save the U.S. Air Force around $80 million per year in fuel costs,” says Dennis Jarvi, president of Rolls-Royce Defense North America.
The first modified T56, dubbed the 3.5 engine enhancement program, will start tests at Rolls’s Indianapolis site in September.
“We are in discussions with the Air Force and Air National Guard to define flight-test parameters and requirements for testing,” says Jarvi, who adds that the “current plan is to perform flight tests in the first half of 2011 at Edwards AFB, Calif.”
The Air Force has loaned Rolls four T56 Series 3 engines for modification and testing. Flight trials and in-service modifications must be performed on a shipset basis, according to the company. “This is due to concerns about potential asymmetric-thrust issues as well as the risk that Series 3 and 3.5 configuration engines installed on the aircraft in combination might cause confusion in the cockpit as a result of turbine inlet temperature and fuel-flow gauge reading mismatch,” it says.
The improvement package updates the compressor inlet housing with the better flow of the Series 4 T56-427A version developed for the Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, as well as compressor-wheel knife seals derived from the same variant. The upgrade also includes remanufactured compressor blades, single-crystal first-stage high-pressure turbine blades, and aerodynamically redesigned blades and vanes throughout the low-pressure turbine.
The turbine upgrade is designed to increase component life by around 30%, and “is derived from proven technologies used on existing powerplants, including the [Rolls-Royce] AE engine,” says Jarvi. The large leap in fuel-burn improvement is expected because, as Jarvi concedes, the original Allison-developed T56 is “relatively old technology.”
Due to the requirement to install so many changes to the compressor, Rolls is planning for the 3.5 upgrade to be performed during depot-level maintenance rather than during intermediate servicing. The kits, which will also be available for international C-130 users beginning in September 2011, are expected to increase the range of the C-130H with a 20,000-lb. payload to more than 3,180 naut. mi., from 2,845 naut. mi., compared with a standard Series 3-powered aircraft under identical conditions.
The market potential is estimated to be around 2,000 engines for the C-130, though overall numbers could grow if a potential adaptation of the kit is developed for the T56-14 version that powers the P-3 maritime patrol aircraft.
The modification to the inlet module would be “notionally about six months after the T56-15s [C-130 variant] are made available, or in March 2012,” Jarvi says. Although the Boeing P-8A is in development as the long-term replacement for the P-3C, Rolls officials say the market remains viable for both potential U.S. Navy upgrades as well as international programs. The company reports 7,500 T56 engines are now in service around the world, powering about 1,325 C-130s, 415 P-3s, 37 C-2s and 108 E-2Cs.
In May, Rolls delivered the first production T56-427A for the E-2D program, which is targeted to be a 75-strong fleet, requiring 150 engines plus spares.
Rolls-Royce on 'vital paths'
Rolls-Royce did not choose to call its largest facility in North America "Crosspointe" - the name was already in place when it bought 400 sprawling hectares in rural Virginia. But deputy executive vice-president Thomas Loehr takes the name as a fortuitous sign connoting a coming together of vital paths where critical decisions are made.
At Crosspointe, those paths include component manufacturing, key partnerships with two universities to speed the application of research into new jet engine technologies and convincing suppliers to settle in the 3.9km2 (1.5 mile2) complex, which is 184km (114 miles) from its North American headquarters in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington DC.
NO COSTS IMMUNITY
Loehr, who has responsibility for the Crosspointe operations, acknowledges now is not an ideal time for such an ambitious undertaking, as most companies are squarely focused on conserving cash. "Rolls-Royce doesn't have immunity to that," he explains, but says that as the company looks forward at its orderbook commitments "it is imperative we invest".
Construction for the first phase of the project is under way. Rolls-Royce during the next 18 months plans to open a 13,000m² (140,000ft²) disc manufacturing site for the Trent 900 powering the Airbus A380, the Trent 1000 featured on the 787 and the Trent XWB for the A350.
The company is largely dependent on the US government continuing to supply funding for development of the F136 engine for a second, 12,100m² facility. Rolls-Royce plans to produce blisks for the engine it is partnering with GE to develop for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at that particular site. Construction of the blisk facility is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of next year.
Research currently done in partnership with Rolls-Royce and the University of Virginia and Virginia Polytechnic institute is being funnelled to the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), which will be housed on 8Ha at Crosspointe. The two universities combined are studying advances in coatings, corrosion, flow controls and power electronics in conjunction with Roll-Royce, and the goal of CCAM is to accelerate that basic research into advanced manufacturing systems such as computational analysis to minimise costs.
The two universities are managing the CCAM and intend to build a membership structure around the centre. Recruitment is underway for an initial four to six member companies. Roughly half the fee paid by those firms will support research directed by the CCAM. The schools have applied for $15 million US federal stimulus funding to support the $20 million first phase cost. Senior associate dean of the University of Virginia school of engineering Barry Johnson envisages CCAM evolving to include two to three facilities to support workforce and training activities.
Rolls-Royce also has a keen interest in luring its suppliers to co-locate at Crosspointe. Loehr explains smaller suppliers could locate within the new facilities under construction at the site, and the company could parcel out 4-8Ha lots for its larger suppliers either through an outright donation or a land lease.
COMMODITIES AT RISK
Loehr says that as Rolls-Royce looks over its orderbook, the company needs to ensure the sustainability of commodities at risk of shortages during the next few years. It is also targeting those key suppliers to establish a presence at Crosspointe to incentivise a capacity increase by those firms. Loehr stresses those specific suppliers would not necessarily support Rolls-Royce's direct activities at Crosspointe, but rather the company's global operations.
The sheer size of Crosspointe underlies Rolls-Royce's commitment to the site. Johnson of the University of Virginia says he is been told the $500 million Rolls-Royce estimates investing in Crosspointe is conservative.
Loehr believes that in the long term Rolls-Royce will establish engine manufacturing and a test facility at Crosspointe.
Characterising Crosspointe as a flagship operation, Rolls-Royce believes it is using its hefty investment in the site to springboard its competitiveness on a global scale, says North America chief executive James Guyette.
Rolls-Royce has accumulated more than 40h of test time on a its latest research test core for a new business aviation and regional aircraft engine line.
Part of the efficiency, environment and economy (E3E) programme launched in 2003, the core features a two-shaft design with a nine-stage blisked high-pressure compressor, lean-burn combustor and two-stage high-pressure turbine (HPT).
Programme goals include a hotter burning engine and higher pressure ratio and component efficiencies as well as a 25% increase in thrust-to-weight ratio. The core is operating in the altitude chamber at Stuttgart University and is being supported by ongoing HPT and HPC rigs programmes.
From an environmental standpoint, R-R says the decreased fuel burn will yield a 15% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions compared with current generation engines. Nitrogen oxides will be reduced through combustor technologies as part of R-R's work to meet the advisory council for aeronautics research in Europe (ACARE) targets of a 60% reduction in NOx by 2020.
Future core builds in 2011 and 2012 and will include 1,200 cycles of endurance testing representative of maximum take-off conditions.
The core, which features a tip clearance control system that uses advance ceramic abradable linings, is similar in architecture to other new engine cores being developed by competitors Pratt & Whitney Canada with its PW800 line and GE Aviation for its TechX project, both of which have cores in test.
R-R says the E3E core HPC has successfully demonstrated a 22:1 pressure ratio, a value similar to high efficiency widebody turbofan engines
Rolls-Royce ne voit pas l'intérêt de nouveaux moteurs pour l'A320
PARIS, 19 août 2010 (AFP)
Le motoriste britannique Rolls-Royce ne voit pas l'intérêt
de lancer le développement de nouveaux moteurs pour l'A320 d'Airbus, a
indiqué jeudi l'un de ses responsables au Wall Street Journal.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704557704575437391200860352.html?mod=WSJEUROPE_hpp_sections_ukintlRolls-Royce Isn't On Board With Airbus's Engine Plan
A proposal by Airbus to put new engines on popular jetliners faces resistance from its top engine supplier, Rolls-Royce PLC, which could cede much of the lucrative market segment to rival U.S. jet producers if it isn't on board.
Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., could announce plans as soon as next month to offer new, more efficient engines on its fast-selling A320 range of single-aisle jetliners, company officials said.
Airbus is considering a new-engine option for its popular A320 jets. Above, an A320 of Jetstar Airways, a unit of Qantas, earlier this year.
But executives at Britain's Rolls-Royce, which is a key supplier on current A320-family engines, said Airbus should instead wait longer and develop an entirely new plane because it would offer bigger improvements in efficiency.
"If you look at the benefits of re-engining and all the costs, there's no net benefit," said Robert Nutall, Rolls's vice president of strategic marketing, in an interview. "We can't make the business case work."
Airbus, however, has cited the lack of new technology, such as materials and design, for proposing new engines instead of new planes.
Airbus executives said last month that they want to announce a "New Engine Option" on the A320 family this year, but are still analyzing their staffing resources for the project.
"The business case is really very convincing [for the re-engining]," said Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders, at the Farnborough Air Show outside London last month.
The aircraft maker hopes to offer the new-engine option for deliveries starting 2015 at a higher price, while continuing to offer current engines.
Rolls-Royce's U.S. rivals, General Electric Co. and the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies Corp., have told Airbus they can offer new engines for the plane, officials at the engine-makers said.
Engines for the A320 family cost roughly $10 million dollars per airplane. Each engine also creates a revenue stream for spare parts and maintenance that potentially reaches several times the purchase price over the life of an airplane.
Rolls has grown its share of the engine market significantly over recent years—largely at Pratt's expense—by competing aggressively to get its engines chosen for a wide range of passenger and business jets. Rolls doesn't break out revenue figures for engines based on airplane type.
Roll's reticence comes as both Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing Co. are struggling to deliver much larger long-range models. Those planes, including Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and Airbus's competing A350, have faced development delays and ballooning budgets. The plane makers are relying on profits from their cash cow single-aisle models to cover expenses from the new planes.
But the single-aisle models are more than a decade old, and airlines are pushing for updates. Airbus executives have said recently that technology—which includes areas such as materials and design—isn't available now to create an entirely new replacement for the A320 that would offer sufficient cost savings to merit the multibillion dollar investment. Instead, Airbus wants simply to offer new engines.
Mr. Nutall predicted that technology will exist for an all-new plane and engine around 2020.
Boeing plans to make a decision on the future of its best-selling 737 single-aisle model by year's end. Chief Executive Jim McNerney and other Boeing executives in recent weeks have indicated that they may be inclined to wait and introduce an entirely new airplane around 2020, instead of redoing the current 737.
Mr. McNerney said during the company's second-quarter earnings call last month that some customers are "sort of pushing us towards a new airplane," rather than an updated plane with better engines. But other customers, he said, appear to favor new engines. A company spokesman said Tuesday that no decision has been made.
Engines for the 737 are produced only by CFM, a joint venture of GE and France's Safran SA. On the A320 family, Airbus offers engines from either CFM or International Aero Engines, a joint venture of Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney. Rolls executives say they are satisfied with the IAE venture as it stands.
Pratt, however, has independently developed a new jet-engine design called the Geared Turbofan and could break away from its partnership with Rolls. The United Technologies unit is lobbying to get its new engine selected for as many planes as possible, including the A320 and 737.
The company is "actively engaged with Boeing and Airbus in support of airplane studies," said Pratt Vice President Bob Saia.
If the new Pratt engine were chosen, Rolls could get squeezed out of the market segment, industry officials say. Rolls could offer a competing engine on its own, but that would be very expensive to develop.
The situation presents a tough strategic decision for Rolls, which is the world's second-biggest producer of jet engines after GE. The British industrial giant is busy with many new jet projects. Its engines are now test-flying on the Boeing Dreamliner, and Rolls is the sole engine supplier for the competing Airbus A350.
For the smaller A320 and 737, Rolls officials argue that the improvements offered by new engines currently are insufficient to merit the cost of changing engines. Re-engining the small planes could require each company to invest roughly $1 billion, industry officials say.
"Based on what customers tell us, we're not convinced of the merits" of only updating the plane's engines, said Mr. Nutall at Rolls.
While many airlines are interested in the new-engine option, others are willing to wait for bigger savings. Executives at low-fare giant Southwest Airlines Co., the biggest buyer of 737s, have been vocal against the idea of simply adding a new engine.
"The time has come to develop a replacement to the workhorse narrow-bodies," Mike Van de Ven, Southwest's chief operating officer, said at an industry conference in June. He said even the newest engine offerings will only provide "marginal improvements" that won't provide enough cost savings to justify an investment by the airline.
For GE and Safran, the situation is simpler than for Rolls. They are happy to maintain the status quo, but will have a new design to offer because their CFM venture committed earlier this year to produce a new engine by 2014 for a planned Chinese jetliner. CFM could use the design to re-engine the A320 or 737, said a GE spokesman.