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Rolls-Royce and Liebherr Joint Venture to Produce Power Gearbox for UltraFan Engines


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Rolls-Royce and Liebherr-Aerospace have created a 50:50 joint venture to produce a power gearbox for UltraFan engines.

The project will begin with Liebherr manufacturing components at its existing facilities, and they will determine after if it is possible for their infrastructure to hold up as the standalone manufacturer. Testing of the gearbox will be done by Rolls-Royce, as well as the majority of design, design definition, and integration. They have invested over €80 million towards setting up their test center in Dahlewitz, Berlin, Germany.

Liebherr-Aerospace Production, Purchasing, and Asset Investments Managing Director and COO Josef Gropper was delighted with the partnership and what it could hold for the future, stating, "We are thrilled to be participating in this exciting new engine demonstrator program, which gives us the opportunity to break new ground and significantly enlarge our scope of activities."

Each UltraFan will be able to handle the horsepower of over 500 family cars. The gearbox inside will use efficient power as opposed to take-off thrusts for high-bypass ratio engines.

The UltraFan offers 25% greater fuel efficiency compared to its first-generation predecessor. Rolls-Royce Aerospace President Tony Wood feels these sort of capabilities are great for the future of aircraft, "The UltraFan engine design includes a suite of new technologies to power next-generation aircraft. The power gearbox is an integral part of this new design, and we are delighted to be partnering with Liebherr on this highly efficient future power gearbox technology."

Rolls-Royce has been using power gearboxes for a while now, and is working on four geared designs--the AE2100, T56, LiftFan and Model 250. They are currently in the midst of a cost-cutting program as part of a plan to boost aero-engine profitability, which has fallen behind their rival GE.

The UltraFan is expected to be ready for service no sooner than 2025.

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