BEL Engineering optimises UltraFan component design for manufacture

BEL Engineering has commenced manufacture of a key part for the Rolls Royce UltraFan project due for flight test operations in 2025.

Featuring new architectures and innovative technological improvements, the Rolls Royce UltraFan engine will deliver engine solutions for future aircraft applications setting new benchmarks in efficiency, environmental performance and precision engineering.

In order to provide a solution for the engine’s torsion box, design engineers at BEL Engineering took part in design for manufacture sessions with Rolls Royce over a two year period. Used within the demonstrator engine, the torsion box is a structural component that provides torsional stiffness at the base of the fan outlet guide vane.

Various components were manufactured at BEL Engineering before being welded together at the Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick site. The components will then then be returned for final machining and assembly operations, as well as to incorporate the casing of the torsion box into the final structure.

Phil Westgarth, Chief Production Engineer at BEL Engineering, said: “The UltraFan project tested our manufacturing engineering capability and demonstrated how we can add value through involvement in the complete design lifecycle of the component.

“We adapted our manufacturing process to accommodate the design changes and provided regular manufacturing feedback to Rolls Royce as progress was made.”

The Rolls Royce UltraFan will offer a 25% fuel reduction compared to the first generation of Trent engine, and deliver a very significant reduction in emissions. Part of that efficiency improvement comes from UltraFan’s composite fan blades and fan case, reducing weight on a twin-engine aircraft by 700kg.

The geared fan architecture makes it possible to increase the diameter while decreasing the rotational speed of the fan. This leads to a higher bypass ratio and increases the efficiency while reducing the noise generated by the fan.

Manufacture is still ongoing, however BEL Engineering has delivered various pre-weld components to meet the demanding engine build schedule.

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