Liebherr-Aerospace and Rolls-Royce have agreed to establish a 50:50 joint venture to develop manufacturing capability and capacity for the power gearbox for Rolls- Royce’s new UltraFan™ engine.
The power gearbox will enable the UltraFan™, a geared design, to deliver efficient power over a range of take-off thrusts for high-bypass ratio engines of the future. For the highest thrust engines, each single gearbox will be capable of handling the equivalent horsepower produced by more than 500 family cars. UltraFan™ is based on technology that could be ready for service from 2025. It will offer at least 25 per cent improvement in fuel burn compared with the first generation of Rolls-Royce Trent engines.
Located in Friedrichshafen (Germany), the joint venture will provide production engineering for the power gear drive train components. The manufacturing of the components will initially be done in existing Liebherr facilities, more precisely in its Friedrichshafen plant, which is Liebherr-Aerospace’s center of excellence for helicopter and aircraft gears and gearboxes, and in its plant in Biberach an der Riss (Germany), which specializes in the manufacture of planetary gears and other components. These are used in a wide range of products such as Liebherr cranes, mining trucks, earth moving applications and port equipment as well as in wind power plants. As production volumes increase, the joint venture will look at options for creating a standalone manufacturing infrastructure.
Josef Gropper, Managing Director & COO Production, Purchasing and Asset Investments, Liebherr-Aerospace & Transportation Systems: “We are thrilled to be participating in this exciting new engine demonstrator programme, which gives us the opportunity to break new ground and significantly enlarge our scope of activities. Due to our longstanding success in aviation gearboxes, our expertise in handling manufacturing challenges, and the Liebherr Group’s extensive competencies in gears for other applications, we will substantially contribute to develop manufacturing capability and capacity for the power gearbox.”
Apart from Liebherr’s know-how in the production of gears, the joint venture will also benefit from the Group’s expertise in machining centers for gears, which it has been developing and manufacturing in its plant in Kempten (Germany) for decades.
Tony Wood, Rolls-Royce President, Aerospace said: “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 will continue to lead the design definition and design integration of the power gearbox, as well as the testing activities. A new test center is already under construction at Rolls-Royce Germany’s site in Dahlewitz south of Berlin.
The establishment of the joint venture is subject to the usual legal approvals.